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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David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
After garnering widespread praise (and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting) for his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me Kenneth Lonergan was in-demand. In September 2005 the writer/director began production on a follow-up feature: Margaret which touted Anna Paquin Matt Damon Mark Ruffalo Matthew Broderick Allison Janney as well as legendary filmmakers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) as producers. The movie wrapped production in a few months time. The buzz was already growing.
Now six years later the movie is finally hitting theaters. So…what took so long?
The journey to this point hasn't been an easy one and it shows. If a film's shot footage is a block of granite and the editing process is the careful carving that turns it into a statuesque work of art Margaret feels like it was attacked by a blind man with a jackhammer. The film is a cinematic disaster a mishmash of shallow characters overwrought politics and sporadic tones. The story follows Lisa Coen (Paquin) a New York teenager who finds herself drowning in chaos after distracting a bus driver (Ruffalo) causing him to hit and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Initially Lisa tells the police it was all an accident but as time passes regret takes hold and the girl embarks on a mission to take down the man she now regards as a culprit. That's just the tip of the iceberg–along the way Lisa deals with everyday teen stuff: falling for her geometry teacher (Damon) combating her anxiety-ridden actress mother losing her virginity dabbling in drugs debating 9/11 and the Iraq War cultivating a relationship with her father in LA and more. There are about eight seasons of television stuffed into Margaret but even a two and a half hour run time can't make it all click.
For more on Margaret check out Indie Seen: Margaret the Long Lost Anna Paquin/Matt Damon Movie
In an interview with London's Daily Mirror, Madonna said she wants to move beyond her Blonde Ambition and help make the world a better place. "There is only one thing that lasts and that's your soul, and if you don't pay attention to that, all the money in the world is not going to help you," she told the paper. "I'd like to be more involved in bringing about world peace." The 44-year-old pop superstar attributes this selfless attitude to her happy marriage to director Guy Ritchie. She added, "I can write the greatest songs and make the most fabulous films and be a fashion icon and conquer the world, but if there isn't a world to conquer, what's the point?"
MTV.com reports singer Whitney Houston is being sued by her father's company, John Houston Entertainment, for breach of contract. The suit alleges Houston has not paid for services rendered when the company acted on her behalf in a managerial capacity and is asking for $100 million in damages. It is not clear, however, if Houston's father is actually involved in filing the suit.
Documentary filmmaker Charles Guggenheim, best known for his 1964 Oscar-winning films Nine from Little Rock about the integration of Arkansas schools and the 1994 A Time for Justice about the civil rights movement, died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer in Washington, D.C. He was 78.
Warner Bros. Pictures will remake the Japanese anime classic Akira for mainstream America. Originally released in 1988, the Katsuhiro Otomo film told the story of a bike gang leader who has to rescue his younger brother from a secret government project known as Akira. The film will be directed by Stephen Norrington (Blade).
Regency Enterprises does Dallas. The 20th Century Fox-based production company is looking to develop the popular '80s primetime soap into a feature film. Yep, we'll get see all the oil-rich Ewings, including that rascal J.R., large and in charge on the big screen.
The second season premiere of MTV's runaway hit The Osbournes may be delayed from its late November airdate due to Sharon Osbourne's ongoing colon cancer treatment. According to the New York Post, even though Sharon is recovering well, her health problems may still pose a problem next month. MTV is set to air the premiere sometime in January, if that is the case. Filming for the show has been going on since July.
An NBC affiliate owned by the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, did not air The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Wednesday because of an interview Leno conducted with the stars of Puppetry of the Penis--two men who can contort their genitals into any number of shapes including hamburgers and the Eiffel Tower. Do you go to school for something like that or what? The station, KSL-TV, felt the content was not appropriate for the Salt Lake City community. Well, probably not.
In other NBC news, the network has announced plans to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death with a special called Elvis Lives. Musical artists such as Britney Spears, No Doubt, Sheryl Crow, Bono and others will be on hand to help celebrate during the hourlong show, which is set to air sometime later this year.
American Idol's "Mr. Runner-Up" Justin Guarini has signed a recording deal with 19 Recordings Ltd. in England, which is in turn licensing the singer's solo career to RCA in the United States. "We look forward to working with Justin to nurture his talent and help him build a recording career at RCA," RCA Music Group chairman Bob Jamieson told Reuters.
What would the supermarket tabloids do without Whitney and Bobby? The National Enquirer's ace investigative reporters have gone to great lengths to obtain exclusive photos of the R&B power couple’s alleged "drug den," a hotel suite the pair rented for two days (while their daughter stayed in an adjacent suite).
And here’s what the Enquirer reportedly found: remnants of marijuana, rolling papers, an empty Jack Daniels bottle, 16 empty Budweiser bottles, baking soda and a spoon.
After which, the Enquirer explained the process involved in freebasing cocaine (the implication being ... well, you get the drift).
And, for readers who don't like to read, the tabloid has conveniently captured the alleged drug den artifacts in one color photo, displayed prominently in the article.
Had enough? If not, here's our Tabloid Top 10 for the week of Aug. 22-28:
1. "Natalie Cole Shocker: I Sold My Body to Buy Drugs" (Enquirer, p. 8) So says one "insider" who has read the advance manuscript to the singer’s autobiography "Angel Dust," er, that's "Angel on my Shoulder."
2. "Ted Kennedy Followed Me to the Bathroom!" (Star, p. 24) Teddy Kennedy reportedly was so "smitten" with a 23-year-old ex-intern that she had to "lock herself in the ladies' restroom to get away from him." There are photos of a portly Ted, the buxom ex-intern and a panoramic shot of the White House.
3. "I Delivered My Own baby -- By C-Section" (Enquirer, p. 18) No, we are not talking about Madonna, but an Oldham, England, woman who performed the headline deed in what the tab christened "the first do-it-yourself Cesarean section."
4. "'Empty Nest' Star's Brave Last Days" (Enquirer, p. 29) Sexagenarian sitcom actor Richard Mulligan is reportedly dying of colon cancer, and his porn star wife is nowhere in sight. Nothing funny here, but it's cool to see that ol' Bert from "Soap" is still kicking.
5. "Lost Continent of Atlantis Found 1,200 Feet Below Antarctica" (Weekly World News, p. 15) We picked this one for the artist's illustration, which looks exactly like the buried city of Pompeii, only covered in snow. Very imaginative, guys.
6. "Seer Says the Winner Is ... Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!" And so does half of the free world who watches "Survivor."
Gallagher 7. "Gallagher Gets Last Laugh As He Smashes Look-Alike Brother's Career" (Enquirer, p. 1.) The watermelon-smashing guy uses the law to stop his younger bro from stealing his signature schtick. Note the eerie similarity between this story and the "Simpsons" episode where Sideshow Bob’s younger brother, Cecil, tried to take over his act on the "Krusty the Clown Show."
8. "Ever Feel Like Running Over Somebody?" (Weekly World News, p. 33) "Well, you can mow down pedestrians like flies in Brazil, and not a damn thing will happen to you!" Yeah, but gas costs $27 a gallon there.
9. "Sleeping on the Job Is Good For You" (Weekly World News, p. 11) We knew that.
10. "Revealed! Secrets of Real Mrs. Robinson" (Globe, p. 64) "The Graduate" author Charles Webb reportedly said that the diva character is based on his prep school teacher. Except for the fact tat his teacher looks like an old school marm, while Anne Bancroft was hot.
Hollywood.com's Tabloid Top 10 is a weekly rundown of the best, worst and weirdest from America's supermarket journalism.
Could Madonna be digging out that white lacy wedding gown from her "Like a Virgin" days anytime soon?
Maybe. The pop diva reportedly told Britain's Mirror that marriage "may lie in the future" for she and her boyfriend, director Guy Ritchie ("Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels").
To be sure, the couple made their first big public outing at the premiere of the M One's new film, "The Next Best Thing". And she recently set up home in Ritchie's native London with 3-year-old daughter Lourdes.
In many a recent interview, the 41-year-old singer-actress has happily declared she's off the market but has been cagey about discussing that "Next Step" -- the one she took with Sean Penn 14 years ago. (Their marriage ended in 1989 after less than four years.)
"It's a serious relationship," she says of Ritchie, a reported 31, in this week's People magazine. "It's excellent. I have an enormous amount of respect for him as a person, his work, his talent. He's very bright."
But does she discuss wedding bells? She only says, "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. If we get to it."
THE OUTSIDER: The film on his life may be up for seven Academy Awards, but "The Insider" himself -- one Jeffrey Wigand -- has yet to receive an invitation to the ceremony.
The controversial film's nods even include one for Russell Crowe, who portrays tobacco industry whistle-blower Wigand. Still, the real-life Wigand says no one from the production has said a word to him about Oscar night.
According to USA Today, Wigand called the Academy himself but was told the Oscar ceremony "wasn't the Super Bowl" and that tickets were in short supply.
Maybe Wigand needs to start hustling. Oscar buffs may recall that another controversial biopic figure, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, wrangled an invite to the 1997 ceremonies through nominee Woody Harrelson, who played him in the nominated film"The People vs. Larry Flynt."
OSCAR WATCH: Okay, so Jeffrey Wigand doesn't have a ticket, but "Ally McBeal" vixen and future "Charlie's Angel" Lucy Liu does. She'll make her Oscar debut as a presenter at the March 26 ceremony.
In other Oscar news, Kenny Ortega has been named choreographer for the ABC telecast. Now we know that producers have promised no dance productions, so what will Kenny do? "Several special surprise sequences," the Academy promises. As long as this doesn't equate to a Lord of the Dance production or a Rob Lowe-Snow White duet, we're good.
QUICK TAKES: Jerry Seinfeld and new bride Jessica Sklar reportedly have bought Billy Joel's 12-acre honeymoon cottage in New York's exclusive East Hampton for $40 million. It's a Spanish-style manor house on the ocean with a guest house, a pool and a barn ...
... Claudia Schiffer and Tim Jeffries have set May 20 as the date for their nuptials, according to the German magazine Bild. They will marry in a small church on the Spanish island of Majorca. The New York Post adds that the supermodel may insist the London gallery owner sign a prenup ...
... "Spin City" cast member Michael Boatman isn't so happy about the show's upcoming move to Los Angeles to accommodate new star Charlie Sheen. On Wednesday's edition of Howard Stern's radio show, Boatman complained that the move will be disruptive to cast members whose families set roots in New York to work on the sitcom. "It's kind of a big mess," he said.
JUST CAUSE: "Today" host Katie Couric has joined forces with Hollywood stalwart Lilly Tartikoff and the Entertainment Industry Foundation to form the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance. The organization, officially launched Wednesday in New York, hopes to increase awareness of colon cancer and raise research funds.
Couric's husband, cable news legal analyst Jay Monohan, died of colon cancer in 1998, while Tartikoff's husband, NBC president Brandon Tartikoff, died of Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1997. The late Charles Schulz had agreed to participate in the campaign before his colon cancer-related death, and his family plans to carry out his commitment.
WEEKLY RUMOR ROUNDUP: A photograph of Jennifer Lopez in her plunging sheer green Versace dress was downloaded 642,917 times the day after the ceremony on the official Grammy Web site, and 1 million times by the following week, says the Post. We're afraid of what this means for future award-show dress codes ...
... Did they or didn't they? Sarah Michelle Gellar was seen on the arm of "Mission to Mars" star Jerry O'Connell many times in 1998 and 1999, but the vampire slayer told TV Guide: "No, [we didn't date]. We went to high school together." But when Fashion Wire Daily approached O'Connell, he said: "Yeah, I went out with Sarah, I did ... I wanted to keep going out with her! I was just too much of an idiot to keep it going. But I'm trying ... I'm working on my attention-span issues, I'm working on my commitment issues, I'm working on my communication issues." Didya hear that, Sarah?