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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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Just last night, on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Saturday’s SNL host Maya Rudolph hinted that she may see the return of former cast mate, Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler when she returns to the hallowed stage. And while she didn’t confirm it, it’s not too much of a stretch to assume some of her former cohorts might come back to lend her a hand – seeing old cast members reunite is half of the fun of having them come back to host. With that in mind, the best way to get pumped for this weekend’s (potential) reunion extravaganza is to run down some of the best SNL cast reunions.
Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph Sing About Baby-Making
When mother-to-be Tina Fey hosted the Mother’s Day episode, she got the reunions going right out of the gate when former cast member and fellow expectant mother Rudolph joined her during her monologue. Defying what her television alter ego, Liz Lemon, would do, Fey led Rudolph in a sexy, R&B song about babies, mommas, and making babies, baby. The performance came right after the release of her book in which she wrestles with the decision to postpone a second baby, writing, “To hell with everybody! Maybe I’ll just wait until I’m fifty and give birth to a ball of fingers! ‘Merry Christmas from Tina, Jeff, Alice, and Ball of Fingers,’ the card will say.” It would seem this reunion is not only a comedy lover’s dream, but a lullaby for little Ball of Fingers.
The Return of “Really!?! With Seth and Amy”
Nothing was quite as cathartic as the Weekend Update segment “Really!?! With Seth and Amy.” It’s come back with the sadly shortened subtitle “With Seth” and once, “With Seth and Kermit” but without Queen Poehler, the sketch just doesn’t cut it. What can we say, she’s really good at saying, “REALLY!?! I mean really.” So when Poehler’s 2009 hosting gig saw the bubbly blonde returning to Weekend Update to question Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s claim that Americans were behind the terrorist attacks on 9-11, her angry ranting was like a breath of fresh, funny air.
Will Ferrell’s Alex Trebek Returns to Face Off With Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery
Though former SNL writer and actor Norm McDonald once admitted this recurring sketch was created solely as a venue for his Burt Reynolds impression, it quickly became the Will Ferrell show as his turgid Alex Trebek gained a certain contentious chemistry with Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery. And in 2009, when Ferrell returned to host the show that launched his illustrious and often terrifyingly shirtless career, Ferrell was practically upstaged by the return of “Connery,” the pre-school antics of Tom Hanks, and a surprise appearance by the inspiration for the original sketch. (Hint: It rhymes with Kurt Heynolds.)
The “I Wish It Was Christmas Today” Single Performance Reunion Tour
It would seem that no one can bring SNL favorites back together like the infinitely likable Jimmy Fallon. The actor has been called the “Star” of the show by many former cast mates, including Queen Tina Fey in her book Bossypants, so the fact that he was able to get Chris Kattan, Horatio Sanz, and Tracy Morgan back together to sing (or bop along like Muppets) the “classic” holiday song is no surprise at all. It’s like a hot cup of peppermint cocoa with really awkwardly shaped marshmallows floating in it – comforting, yet slightly irksome.
Dana Carvey and Mike Myers Party On
While Myers and Carvey are clearly far from their teenage youth, the duo reunited in 2011 when Carvey hosted SNL to discuss the impending Oscars ceremony. They had a particular fixation on Winter’s Bone (Winter’s BONE). Seeing the pair reunite for the first time since the watered down reincarnation during the 2008 MTV Movie Awards was welcomed by fans and the actors alike. In fact, Carvey even got a bit of the Wayne’s World bug, telling TMZ, “If they want, we can play 'em in their 50s ... 'Wayne! My prostate's enlarged!” Well, as they say, “Party on, Garth!”
The Ladies of ‘SNL’ Skewer the ‘Real Housewives’ Series
For one glorious night, the ladies of SNL past and present came together to deliver a pitch-perfect impression of Bravo’s bread and butter, Real Housewives reunions hosted by Andy Cohen – who was also on hand to keep the funny ladies in check. Laura Dunn, Cheri Oteri, Molly Shannon, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Tina Fey gathered in New York to get the cat fight going while Laraine Newman, Amy Poehler, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus gathered in Los Angeles to add their two cents. Not only was the subject the perfect way to showcase these ladies’ varied comedic styles, but it if you pay close attention, you can hear the development of Rudolph’s current TV persona from Up All Night. Just listen for the “in-saan.”