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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Lifetime Adds a Leading Lady: TV icon Brooke Shields is joining Lifetime’s lady drama Army Wives. According to a press release, Shields will join the cast as “brash and brilliant” Air Force Colonel Katherine “Kat” Young. Kat is a guy’s girl who can definitely hold her own in the boys' club atmosphere of the military, but it won't take long before she’s butting heads with Army General Michael Holden (Brian McNamara). Army Wives fans can look forward to seeing Shields' character in a full-fledged power struggle with Holden to see who’s top dog on the base. But of course it wouldn’t be a Lifetime show unless Kat was holding onto a deep dark secret. “Only after their initial skirmishes does Holden learn of Kat’s tragic past, discovering they have more in common than he thought.” Shields is just one of the new additions to join the drama this season — Ashanti and Torrey DeVitto are also set to join the cast. Fans can catch the Season 7 premiere of Army Wives on Sunday, March 10 at 9 PM. [Lifetime]
A Witchcraft Reunion: Grab your spell books and wands because Disney Channel is reuniting the cast of Wizards of Waverly Place! Selena Gomez is back as Alex — the snarky best friend you’ve always wanted — in a one-hour special airing Friday, March 15 at 8 PM. The Russo family will travel to Tuscany, Italy for a family reunion, but in a attempt to show her serious magical skills, Alex accidently splits her personality in two: good Alex and bad Alex. (Side note: Didn’t they already do an episode like this? I'm pretty sure I've seen this already...) In a totally believable twist, the two Alexes battle for the fate of their family and the world atop the Tower of Pisa. [TV Guide]
Going Through The Gates... Again: Ken Marino and Aasif Mandvi have joined the NBC comedy pilot The Gates. Based on the British series, The Gates is an adult ensemble comedy set at the front gates of an elementary school drop-off and revolves around the parents, school staff and 15-minute social minefield they navigate at the beginning and end of each school day. (Side note: We're getting another case of deja vu here. Wasn't there already a TV series The Gates? On ABC? In the summer of 2010? Yes, yes there was...) This new incarnation centers on type-A Helen (Kathleen Rose Perkins), who just moved to town with her husband Mark (Marino) and their 8-year-old daughter for Helen’s big new job. Mark is described as a loveable, sweet, well-meaning, puppy-dog of a guy, a type B, or C, maybe even D to his wife’s type-A personality. Since he owns a construction business, he’s got a more flexible schedule than Helen and is at their daughter’s school more than his wife. Mandvi will play another dad at the school, a super-driven, competitive Yale-educated lawyer who’s one of these comedically intense guys who pushes his kids way too hard. [Deadline]
Party Down Parties On: This reunion is definitely one worth noting. On Feb. 9, San Francisco’s Sketchfest will reunite the cast of Starz’s brilliant-but-canceled catering comedy Party Down. Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Martin Starr, and Ryan Hansen are already locked in as attendees and it has just been revealed that Lizzy Caplan will join the group at this sold-out event as well. [EW]
It's Still Pilot Season, Y'all: NBC greenlighted a single-camera comedy from The Office developer/executive producer Greg Daniels starring Craig Robinson. The untitled project is about a talented musician with rough edges who adjusts to his new life as a music teacher in a big-city middle school, where he encounters teacher politics and the temptations of single moms. CBS has handed two more pilot orders to comedy Bad Teacher and drama The Advocates. Bad Teacher, a single-camera comedy series adaptation of the hit 2011 movie of the same name, is about a sexy, foul-mouthed divorcee who becomes a teacher to find her next husband. The Advocates, which had a pilot production commitment, centers on a female lawyer and a male ex-con who team up as “victim advocates,” going to the edge of the law to right wrongs and fight for the underdog. [Deadline, Deadline]
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TV Tidbits: 'The Vampire Diaries' Takes a Bite Out of Ratings
TV Tidbits: Meredith Vieira In Talks To Host Her Own Daytime Talk Show
'TV Tidbits': Ali Larter Joins 'Legends,' 'Once Upon a Time''s Snow White Gets a Mom
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Top Story: Spidey 3 on the Way!
Although they are snarled in a web of litigation over Spider-Man licensing fees and revenue, Sony Pictures and comic book publisher Marvel Enterprises Inc. are already looking ahead at a third Spider-Man blockbuster, Reuters reports. "[The] best-case scenario I can tell you is [the film will be released] 2006. It is a big movie, and we would rather play it safe and talk about 2007 at this point," Marvel's film chief Avi Arad told Reuters. Spider-Man was the highest grossing film of 2002, amassing over $800 million in worldwide ticket sales, and it still holds the box office record for the biggest three-day domestic debut ever with $115 million in ticket sales. Spider-Man 2 is set to hit theaters July 2.
Basinger, Baldwin Settle Child Custody Dispute
Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin resolved their child custody battle over their 8-year-old daughter, Ireland, The Associated Press reports. Baldwin, who lives in New York, was seeking an "equal share" of parenting with Basinger, who lives in California, while the actress was asking for sole custody, with visitation rights for Baldwin. A Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Baldwin, the television program Celebrity Justice reported.
Spielberg Sidesteps Passion Questions
Steven Spielberg is not responding to questions about Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. At a press conference to promote the DVD release of his Oscar-winning Holocaust movie Schindler's List, Reuters reports the director said he was "too smart" to answer any questions about the controversial film, which has been called anti-Semitic, since he had yet to see it. "I certainly am not going to comment based on circumstantial evidence from what I've been hearing and feeling in the last seven or eight days," Spielberg said. "When I do see the film, the first person who will hear from me will be Mel Gibson and no one else," he added. Spielberg did comment that in the decade since the release of Schindler's List, the world has become a "very sad place again," which shows that people "don't really learn that much from history, and they need to."
Rowling Gives Hints to Next Book
J.K. Rowling, author of the wildly popular Harry Potter books, says she won't give any secrets away about her last two books in the series but promises fans that even tougher times await the young wizard. "In Book Six, the wizarding world is really at war again and he has to master his own feelings to make himself useful," Reuters reports Rowling said in a live Web chat Thursday. "If personally I was Harry Potter, I would hide because I know what is coming," she said. Rowling also added there would be no prequels. "You won't need them. By the time I've finished you'll have all the back story you need."
NBC Files Countersuit Against Will & Grace Creators
NBC has filed a counterclaim to Will & Grace creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick's lawsuit, in which they allege the network shortchanged them in renewing the hit sitcom. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the network, in turn, accused the duo of being "duplicitous" in their dealings at the negotiation table. NBC's cross-complaint maintains that Kohan and Mutchnick and their "handlers" had always planned to sue the network over the license fee deal struck in 2002 for Will & Grace, even though NBC claims they involved the creators and their attorneys and agents in the license fee renegotiations that took place in late 2001 and early 2002.
UPN Signs Up Missy Elliot
Calling all aspiring rappers. UPN announced it will launch a new "dramality" series tentatively called the Missy Elliott Project, in which the superstar rapper will tour the country with a group of aspiring rap stars, advising them as they compete in weekly elimination challenges as well as meeting industry bigwigs while the show's cameras chronicle their every move, Reuters reports.
DeGeneres Tops Daytime Emmy Nominations
Ellen DeGeneres' new talk show was nominated for 12 Daytime Emmy Awards, the most of any daytime talk show, AP reports, including best host. Joining her in that category are Dr. Phil McGraw; Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa of Live!; and The View crew of Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, Joy Behar and Barbara Walters. Vieira was also nominated for best game show host for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and will compete against veterans Bob Barker of The Price is Right and Alex Trebek of Jeopardy!. The Young and the Restless led the soap opera pack with 16 nods, All My Children and As the World Turns earned 14 apiece, with 12 for General Hospital and Guiding Light. The 31st annual Daytime Emmy Awards are set to air on NBC May 21 from New York's Radio City Music Hall.
Newest Batman Shooting Now
Memento director Christopher Nolan has commenced production in Iceland on his highly anticipated superhero feature Batman Begins. The film stars Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman; Michael Caine as his trusted butler, Alfred; Katie Holmes as Wayne's childhood friend, Rachel; Liam Neeson as Wayne's mentor, Henri Ducard; Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, a former Wayne Enterprises board member and sidelined employee; Ken Watanabe as the villainous Ra's Al Ghul; and Gary Oldman, who just signed on as Lt. James Gordon, a detective on the Gotham police force.
Top Story: Jolie Awarded Prestigious U.N. Award
Angelina Jolie tearfully accepted the United Nations Correspondents Association's first Citizen of the World Award for her continued work with refugees, The Associated Press reports. Ruud Lubbers, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, introduced the actress, saying, "She has helped put the spotlight on a disenfranchised group--refugees--and also those who are not in the headlines and who are victims of long forgotten crises," Lubbers said. "She gives a voice to millions of uprooted people across the globe." Jolie, 28, a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. refugee agency since 2001, said at the awards dinner Wednesday night that she was "inspired and humbled" to work with refugees and also said it was exceptionally meaningful to receive an award named for Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top U.N. envoy to Iraq, who was one of 22 people killed in the Aug. 19 bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, AP reports. Every time she looks at the award, Jolie said, she'll be reminded of the work he did for the United Nations, not only in Iraq but also for refugees and in promoting human rights.
Japanese Man Sues Britney Spears
A Japanese businessman who was ordered to stay away from Britney Spears has filed a lawsuit against the pop princess, claiming her security guards caused him "extreme emotional distress," Reuters reports. Masahiko Shizawa, a 43-year-old software entrepreneur, says Spears' guards confronted him on a public street at gunpoint and demanded that he leave the area. A restraining order was placed on Shizawa Oct. 7, when a judge deemed he had "engaged in a pattern of harassment and stalking" Spears for more than a year, Reuters reports.
Siegfried Vows Return to Stage With Roy
At the third annual World Awards in Hamburg, Germany Thursday, Siegfried Fishchbacher, of the famed Siegfried and Roy duo, accepted a special award on behalf of his partner, Roy Horn, who is recovering from a tiger attack during a performance Oct. 3, and vowed the two would return to the stage, AP reports. "The Siegfried who you see before you here will soon return again as Siegfried and Roy," the German-born magician told the cheering crowd at the ceremony recognizing outstanding contributions to society specifically by men. Other award recipients included Michael Douglas, Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb, Morgan Freeman and Christopher Reeve.
Columnist Fired for Racist Remarks
ESPN.com has fired columnist Gregg Easterbook as a freelance contributor to its Web site after his derogatory comments towards the producers of Kill Bill were published in The New Republic magazine, AP reports. Easterbook apologized last week for remarking the producers were "Jewish executives" who "worship money above all else," but ESPN said in a statement they found the comments "highly offensive and intolerable."
HBO's Band Could Hit Syndication
Following the sale of Sex and the City episodes to Tribune Entertainment, HBO has started shopping around their Emmy-winning miniseries Band of Brothers to other cable networks in a move to try and generate an additional revenue stream. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the History Channel has expressed the most interest in the 10-hour WWII drama produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
Reality TV Awards Shelved for Now
ABC and veteran Emmys producer Don Mischer have decided to pull the plug on producing an award show honoring the best in non-scripted television, Reuters reports, due to a lack of cooperation from the other networks. Mischer said plans for the new "Reality Awards" were severely hampered by the refusal of some competing networks to grant permission for clips of their shows to be televised on ABC. "In several cases, we were told that 'reality' stars, judges and producers would be discouraged from participating, even though all those we talked to were very excited about honoring this genre of television," Mischer said. The two-hour special was to have been taped on Nov. 23, but no airdate was ever set, Reuters reports.
Role Call: Harlin Picks Up Exorcist's Loose Ends, It's a Man-Thing
Director Renny Harlin will take over the directing chores on Exorcist: The Beginning, helming six weeks of reshoots, Variety reports. He replaces Paul Schrader, who dropped out last month as director of the prequel to the 1973 Oscar-nominated film due to creative differences. Exorcist: The Beginning traces the story of Father Merrin back to his first encounter with the devil in Africa and stars Stellan Skarsgard, Gabriel Mann, Clara Bellar and recording artist Billy Crawford…Another Marvel comic book character is coming to a theater near you. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Man-Thing, a story about a vengeful creature born from the evil and injustices perpetrated against man and nature and starring Jack Thompson and Rawiri Paratene, will open Aug. 27, 2004.
The 28-year-old stepbrother of "Titanic" superstar Leonardo DiCaprio is in a Los Angeles area jail today on $1 million bail. The allegation: Suspicion of attempted murder.
Adam Farrar, himself an actor, who appeared in the controversial kiddie-bank-robber indie flick "Pups," was arrested about noon Wednesday at a home in Marina Del Rey, Calif., after an alleged attack on his girlfriend, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department says.
Leonardo DiCaprio Upon being taken into custody, Farrar told deputies he was Leo's stepbrother. While the familial factoid is true (Leo's camp confirmed as much today), authorities say they're not sure why Farrar offered that by way of ID info.
In addition to the attempted-murder booking, Farrar was also accused of making "terrorist threats" against his (unidentified) girlfriend.
Farrar (listed in the credits of "Pups" as "Ferrar") and DiCaprio are not related by blood. They became family when Farrar's bodybuilder mother married DiCaprio's underground-comic-guru father. Farrar was the first star of the family, doing commercials as a kid. He later left acting for other pursuits, including a stint in the Army.
In 1999, he was named one of Hollywood's "30 Under Thirty" to watch by TNT's Rough Cut movie Web site (www.roughcut.com). "I would love to work with [DiCaprio]," Farrar told the site. "I'm leaving all my options open at this point."
It wasn't known if DiCaprio, 25, was aware of Farrar's current straits. "He has no comment," DiCaprio's publicist, Ken Sunshine, said today of the actor.
TRAGEDY: Mia Farrow is mourning the loss of her 19-year-old child, who died last weekend of a cardiac arrest, it has been revealed. Tam Farrow -- born in Vietnam and adopted by Farrow in 1992 -- had a history of medical problems. She was blind and had been hospitalized as recently as last week in Connecticut. Mia Farrow, 55, is almost as famous for raising a seemingly unmanageable brood of children as for her films ("The Purple Rose of Cairo," "Death on the Nile") or for her tabloid-friendly breakup with longtime love Woody Allen in 1992. Tam Farrow was one of the actress' 14 children -- 10 of whom are adopted. Farrow is also a grandmother by estranged daughter Soon-Yi. Allen, 64, and Soon-Yi adopted a child of their own in 1998.
OSCAR WATCH: Mel Gibson has enlisted to present, and supermodel Tyra Banks and MTV News' Chris Connelly have enlisted to co-host, ABC's red-carpet arrivals parade (now dubbed "Countdown to Oscars 2000") with "The View" gabber Meredith Vieira. Most disturbingly, Ray Charles, Isaac Hayes, Whitney Houston, Queen Latifah and baseball player Garth Brooks have enlisted to perform a "special song medley" on the main telecast. For this they ditched the dance numbers?
GOOD COUNTRY PEOPLE: Singer Faith Hill ("Breathe") lassoed eight nominations, including one for best entertainer, as the field for the TNN Music Awards was announced today. Hubby Tim McGraw scored five. Winners will be announced June 15 in Nashville.
THE SIMILARITIES ARE STARTLING? A Pennsylvania woman has filed a federal lawsuit against the author of the mega-selling-soon-to-be-a-major-motion-picture "Harry Potter" series, claiming that J.K. Rowling ripped off her non-mega-selling-not-soon-to-be-a-major-motion-picture 1984 novel, "The Legend of Rah and Muggles."
PEOPLE WHO GET PERMITS ARE THE LUCKIEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD: Barbra Streisand and hubby James Brolin have gotten the go-ahead from the Malibu City Council to rip down one of their houses and build a new one in its place. That's what rich people call spring cleaning.