For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Top chef Giada De Laurentiis suffered from an on-set scare on Saturday (23Nov13) when she sliced open her finger while cooking on live TV. The American culinary expert was on hand to cook some of her favourite dishes for the Food Network's annual Thanksgiving special, which aired live in the U.S.
While she was attempting to cut turkey she had prepared, she missed the meat and sliced open her left index finger instead.
De Laurentiis tried to cover up her pain, but an eyewitness tells Radar Online that she was trying her best not to pass out on TV.
The source says, "She seemed to go pale and got very quiet putting pressure on it and whispering to (co-host) Ina (Garten) that it was bad. She looked like she was about to faint."
The chef later took to Instagram.com to post a photo of her injured finger, before and after receiving stitches, and wrote, "Before & After..... an adjustment to my normal mani (manicure)! Back to normal in 2 wks (sic)."
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Disney has done it again! The multi-talented Laura Marano opens up about her role as Ally Dawson on Austin & Ally, her love of the stage, and her plans for the future. The songbird actress is one to watch!
Which do you prefer, being on stage or the camera? Can you tell us why?
Oh, that's hard because I honestly love both! If I had to pick, I guess I would probably say being on stage. When you are performing in theater, you feel so connected to your audience. It's exhilarating!
What is your favorite instrument to play, which, if any, do you feel you have mastered?
Well, the only instrument I know how to really play, and the instrument that I absolutely love, is the piano. I have been playing piano ever since I have been 9.
How is it working on the series Austin & Ally? Any fun stories you can share with us?
Working on Austin and Ally has been an absolute dream! We literally have fun every single day! Whether it's scaring each other, or singing together or just hanging out in each other's dressing rooms, the cast and I are super close! I feel really lucky to be with everyone on our set!
Both yourself and your character Ally are singers and songwriters. Do you feel a personal connection with her?
Oh my goodness, I feel so close to Ally! Seriously, I feel like we are the same person. Not only do we both love music, but we also both love school, both are absolute romantics, and both are pretty quirky.
Can we expect to see you in anything else this year?
I am actually going to be guest starring on another Disney show called Liv and Maddie. That was ridiculously fun! Also, I am going to be working with the Humane Society, which I am really excited about!
We’ve seen your video, ‘This is who I am.’ Your dad looks like a great cook! What is your favorite dish of his?
He is such a good cook! Seriously, I am obsessed with all my dad's dishes! My favorites have to be his pizza and his pasta -literally, his food is amazing!
What are your plans for the holiday season this year?
This holiday season, I am relaxing. Which I am super excited about!
Troubled rapper Chief Keef will spend Christmas (13) in California after winning permission to complete his 90-day rehab sentence at the luxury Promises Treatment Center. The 18 year old, real name Keith Cozart, was handed the sentence on Wednesday (06Nov13) after a Cook County, Illinois judge ruled he had violated his probation by testing positive for marijuana in September (13). He had been ordered to stay sober after pleading guilty to a charge of speeding following an arrest in May (13).
He served just nine days of a 20-day jail sentence for the dirty drug test last month (Oct13), but now he has promised to seek professional help in California in a bid to kick his addictions for good.
The plan, which has the support of his label bosses at Interscope Records, is for Keef to tackle his drug troubles by enrolling in a $250,000 (£166,670) treatment programme at Promises. If he shows progress during his first 30 days, he could be granted supervised leave to work on new music.
However, Judge Earl B. Hoffenberg has warned Keef he faces a lengthy stint behind bars if he fails to stay out of trouble, telling him: "My promise to you is that if you do not complete the program, you will spend the rest of your time in county jail."
In addition to the rehab stint, Keef must complete 60 hours of community service at an equestrian centre in his native Chicago, Illinois upon completion of his treatment.
It was the star's latest run-in with the law - he already has a 2011 firearms conviction on his record, and he is currently facing two claims for child support from two different women.
Country music star Zac Brown can finally add a boy to his brood of kids - his wife Shelly is expecting a son after four girls. The couple's daughters, aged from two to six, will welcome a baby brother next year (14), according to a tweet from Brown's bandmates in the Zac Brown Band.
They announced the news on Thursday night (07Nov13), writing, "BabyBrown Update! Please help us congratulate Zac and Shelly as they welcome their 1st baby BOY this spring!"
Bandmate Clay Cook recently told Country Weekly magazine that he believes the Browns will stop making babies when they have a son, stating, "I think the deal is, if they have a boy, they're gonna quit."
Troubled rapper Chief Keef is heading back behind bars for a probation violation, just 13 days after he was released. The 18 year old, real name Keith Cozart, is heading to a rehabilitation facility associated with the Cook County Department of Corrections, after a Chicago, Illinois judge sentenced him to 90 days for failing a random drug test.
Keef took to Twitter.com on Wednesday (06Nov13) to tell his followers he was returning to jail and wrote, "Judge Putting me Back in jail See y'all later."
Keef's random drug tests stem from a May (13) arrest for speeding, for which he pleaded guilty and was ordered to undergo regular testing as part of his sentence.
In September (13), he failed by testing positive for marijuana, and began a 20-day sentence in jail on 15 October (13).
However, he was released 11 days early on 23 October (13), after receiving credit for good behaviour.
It was the 18 year old's latest run-in with the law - he already has a 2011 firearms conviction on his record, and he is currently facing two claims for child support from two different women.
He can sing, cook and now he shows us that he can act. One of our favorite Idols chats with us about winning American Idol, having his own Vegas show and his upcoming role on Law & Order: SVU.
You're the first 'American Idol' winner to score a Vegas residency. We hear it’s a great show.
I really love performing in Vegas. It’s pretty awesome to have your own show room and to be a part of such a historic landscape of entertainers that have had residencies here.
What is your favorite act in Las Vegas...other than yours?
There’s so many wonderful talented entertainers. I love all the Cirque Shows. It’s like asking me what my favorite song is. It’s a really hard question. It depends on your mood.
Can you tell us a little about your role on Law & Order: SVU?
I’ve been working with an acting coach for about a year now. I have been auditioning for scripted TV. What's great about this role is that I get to play myself, and I love the show. It's one of my favorites on TV.
Would you have any desire to judge American Idol?
I know the idea has been kicked around a lot. I would love to take on that role because I know a lot about it, and I would love to help up-and-coming artists get to really successful points in their careers, which is what I think American Idol does.
How was working with Clay Aiken and Ashanti?
Those two were wonderful to work with. Ashanti is as sweet as she can be, and we just had a ball on set. It was a wonderful experience, and I hope I get to see and work with them again.
We hear you’re working on a country album.
I definitely think it will be country, soulful music. Coming from the South and Alabama, you pick up on a lot of genres. Country music was definitely a big part of my life. I’m really blessed to be able to work in Nashville and live and work in Las Vegas and Birmingham - where I'm from - and to work with wonderful country artists and writers on this next record.
Who have you enjoyed performing with the most?
That’s a tough one. I think adding blues harmonica to "Gin and Juice" with Snoop Dogg was probably one of the best moments I’ve had as an entertainer. Adding blues to rap was the most innovative thought we had. Definitely a fun moment.
Any dream future collaborator?
I'd love to work with Paul Simon. He's one of my favorite singer/songwriters. I just really love his music, and I’ve been playing it for a long time. Hopefully our paths will cross.
Word is you’re a great cook. You even own your own restaurant, Saw's Juke Joint in your native Birmingham, Alabama. What inspired you to get into the restaurant business?
Well, I used to perform in that location long before my American Idol days. I was always around restaurants and clubs. I was always a foodie. When you’re from Alabama, you're born a foodie. I love the culinary arts, music and food. It’s the perfect match. Saw's is a wonderful combination of those. Live music, jalapeno poppers stuffed with BBQ and sweet tea fried chicken. It’s a soulful venue.
Do you ever play there?
I do. I sneak in and perform some nights. It’s always fun to come back and surprise folks.
You have a couple recipes in the new Taste of Home cookbook, Recipes Across America. Where'd you learn to cook?
My grandmother and my great-grandmother were always in the kitchen. I love to cook. I love big pasta diners with friends and family. Spaghetti is one of my favorites to cook for everybody. I don’t get to cook too much because I travel a lot, but when friends or family come over, we do pasta.
What will you do for Thanksgiving dinner?
I always like to take Thanksgiving to be with my family and friends. There's a lot of great cooking around, and there's always a festive atmosphere.
Lastly, I have to ask: How did it feel to win American Idol?
You know, it was one of those feelings that I will never forget for the rest of my life. As many years as I spent as a struggling musician, it all culminated in that moment...of catching my break. I am very grateful for that.
Catch Taylor on Law & Order: SVU on NBC Wednesday, November 6 at 9PM ET.
Singer Shania Twain has shaved the catering budget for her Las Vegas residency by cooking up meals for her tour crew herself. Rather than spend money on expensive cooks, the Come on Over hitmaker is treating her staff behind the scenes of her Shania: Still the One shows to a little home cooking
She says, "I love to cook. I cook all the meals here. For dinner I'll cook it in the afternoon and then I'll bring it downstairs in a bag, cross the casino with my dinner and then I feed everyone downstairs in the dressing room."
Model Alyssa Miller has confirmed she's dating Jake Gyllenhaal, revealing they love to host dinner parties for pals. The actor, who has previously dated Taylor Swift and Reese Witherspoon, was spotted dining with Miller in New York over the summer (13), sparking rumours they are an item.
They have kept their romance under the radar ever since, but now Miller has given fans a small insight into the relationship.
She tells Us Weekly, "Things are good. I have people over all the time and we cook. I love having people over socially and cooking dinner parties."
Miller is the latest Sports Illustrated model the Brokeback Mountain star has been linked to - in March (13) he reportedly dated Miller's peer Emily DiDonato.