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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The Black Flag reunion has suffered another blow - bassist Dave Klein has quit. Founder Greg Ginn and Ron Reyes regrouped the punk act last year (12), but things went sour on a tour of Australia and frontman Reyes was fired.
Pro-skateboarder Mike Vallely, the band's former manager, announced he would be taking over vocals for dates in 2014 last week (ends31Jan14), but now it appears the band needs a new bass player.
Klein took to his Facebook.com page to make his departure official shortly after Vallely's announcement, and wrote, "I guess I should OFFICIALLY say that I'm no longer playing with BF."
Reyes then responded to his former bandmate's post, stating, "God Help their poor new bass player."
Meanwhile, Vallely has written an online piece for sports news site ESPN, insisting Reyes was not fired from Black Flag - he quit.
The X-Games star writes, "Reyes quit the band in November in Australia. He had informed Ginn and I several times that the Australian shows would be his last as vocalist for Black Flag. The day of the last show in Perth, he reiterated this to us in no uncertain terms. He texted me several times while we were in Australia, threatening to not play the shows at all and to just fly home.
"He had been so temperamental the entire time we had been on the road that we were ready for anything at that point. Him flying home wasn't just a threat but a real possibility. Earlier in the summer in Hanover, Germany, he had actually quit the band on stage in a fit of rage. He threw his microphone down and stormed off the stage, screaming, 'That's it. I'm done,' only to return moments later when he realized the band would just keep going without him."
Reyes has since responded to the claims, stating: "More lies. Consider the source people."
Punk icons Black Flag are having another shot at a comeback with a pro-skateboarder as their frontman. Mike Vallely helped manage the band last year (13) after founding member Greg Ginn announced a reunion tour with his former lead singer Ron Reyes.
Ginn and Reyes even recorded a new album, What The.... together, but the reformation was shortlived and the singer announced he had been fired from the band during an Australian tour in November (13).
He alluded to the fact that the manager had become his replacement following a stage altercation at a gig in Perth.
In a post on his Facebook.com page, Reyes wrote, "On November 24th 2013 the last night of the Australian Hits and Pits tour with two songs left in the set Mike V comes on stage stares me down, takes my mic and says, 'You’re done, party’s over, get off...'
"So, with a sense of great relief that it was finally over, I left the stage and walked to the hotel room. They finished the set with Mike V on vocals. There is much more that can and perhaps should be said. But for now I will spare you the gory details."
Vallely has now been officially sworn in as Black Flag's new frontman and he has released a statement assuring fans that he and Ginn will deliver nothing but great shows and no drama in 2014.
He says, "We feel that, generally, the band fell short in 2013 because of a difference in the philosophies of Ron and Greg. It just led to dysfunction.
"(Last year) could have been better. Black Flag can be a stronger, more cohesive, tighter band. We want to prove that."
Vallely is Black Flag's fifth frontman. The group's most famous singer is punk poet and actor Henry Rollins.
The CW Has Changed Its Mind: It's baaack! The Selection — a Hunger Games-esque pilot based on a novel by Kiera Cass that was initially made for this year, has been given new life. The show is set 300 years in the future, and it stars a young woman named America Singer who goes on a Bachelor-like competition show to be the nation's next queen. Friday Night Lights' Aimee Teegarden starred in the original pilot, but she is not attached to the rewritten version. [EW]
Showtime Goes There: Showtime has lately become known for its controversial programming, and they won't be stopping anytime soon: The cable network has put in development a neo-Nazi drama called The 4th Reich, executive produced by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal. Showtime describes the show as American History X meets The Town, and it will focus on a South Boston ex-con who has to balance his old 'Brotherhood' with his status as an FBI informant. [Deadline]
Violet Returns?: American Horror Story: Asylum ends its run tonight, but, as always, creator Ryan Murphy is making plans for next year. He's already confirmed that Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, and Sarah Paulson will return for Season 3, and now he's in talks with a Season 1 star — Taissa Farmiga — on a possible return. If it ends up working out, Farmiga — who played very troubled teen Violet — would be one of the leads. [EW]
New Girl Gets Shameless: A little bit of Chicago is coming to LA! Steve Howey — who plays Kev on Showtime's hit family dramedy — will guest star as an intense pro football player that Winston interviews. He later attends a party at the loft, and sets his eye on Jess... but wait, isn't she taken? [TVLine]
Army Wives Return: The wives of the army are back! Season 7 is set to debut on Lifetime on Sunday, March 10, the network said in a release. This year, there will be some star-powered new blood on the show: Ashanti, Torrey DeVitto (Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries), Elle McLemore (Bring It On) and Jesse McCartney have joined the cast.
My Name is Earl Reunion: Greg Garcia is blending his two TV worlds once again and the cast of My Name is Earl is coming to Raising Hope. Jason Lee will return as faded rock star Smokey Floyd, and Jaime Pressly and Ethan Suplee will play Burt and Virginia’s neighbors Donna and Andrew. But what is causing this amazing reunion you ask? Hope's 3rd birthday party of course! [TV Line] Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna [PHOTO CREDIT: FX] MORE: TV Tidbits: Seth MacFarlane's New Series; 'Arrow' Nabs Another 'Doctor Who' Alum TV Tidbits: 'The Vampire Diaries' Takes a Bite Out of Ratings TV Tidbits: Meredith Vieira In Talks To Host Her Own Daytime Talk Show From Our Partners: Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz) Craziest Celebrity Swimsuits Ever (Celebuzz)
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
Every year at the Sundance Film Festival there a handful of movies that enter the event with high prospects of being purchased by a distributor. There are always surprises - under the radar crowdpleasers that find an audience without the aid of star-power like last year's Winter's Bone - but it's easy to tell which movies have the best chances based on their cast alone. Let's have a look at some of the films we expect to get distribution:
The Son of No One - In Dito Montiel's third feature film and third collaboration with Channing Tatum, the young star plays Jonathan White, a young cop assigned to a precinct in the working class neighborhood he grew up in and where an old secret threatens to destroy his life and his family. With a gritty tone and great supporting cast including Al Pacino, Katie Holmes, Ray Liotta and Juliette Binoche, this one is all but assured to add to Tatum's busy year of motion picture promotion (he's got to push The Eagle and Haywire in addition to shooting films like Ten Year and 21 Jump Street.)
Margin Call - American's are still reeling from the 2008 financial meltdown and this star-studded indie chronicles a 24-hour period during the early stages of the crisis. Though last fall's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps attempted to tell the tale of the causes of the recession, this film will likely present a more human story about how it affected the very people who worked in the industry at the time. It's still a hot-button topic and with Demi Moore, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci, Simon Baker and Paul Bettany rounding out the cast, count on this one hitting home - and your local art-house theater.
My Idiot Brother - Sundance is known for launching quirky indie comedies like Little Miss Sunshine and this laugher may be on the same course to success. Paul Rudd stars as a pot dealer who moves in with his three sisters (Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel and Elizabeth Banks). It's an offbeat premise with a glamorous cast and broad appeal, which could turn into some big box office numbers.
The Devil's Double - Dominic Cooper has been poised to break out for some time now, but he's mainly been relegated to supporting roles in films much bigger than his reputation. That may change with director Lee Tamahori's new movie, a character study centering on Saddam Hussein's son Uday and his troubled body double. If Cooper is as good as the buzz has led me to believe, it could mark a major moment for the British thesp and a return to form for Tamahori, who has most recently been striking out in the last decade with duds like xXx: State of the Union and Next.
The Details - A reunion of Spider-Man stars Tobey Maguire and Elizabeth Banks? I'd buy that. This dark comedy is a study of suburban conflict and centers on the anarchy that ensues when a family of raccoons discovers tasty worms living under the sod in Jeff (Maguire) and Nealy's (Banks) backyard and causes a wild chain reaction of domestic tension, infidelity and murder. It sounds so ridiculous that its got to be good for some good humor! A supporting cast featuring Laura Linney, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta and Kerry Washington sure won't hurt either.
Salvation Boulevard - Comedies about religion are tough to pull off, but this one might just work. Pierce Brosnan stars as a corrupt preacher on the run from fundamentalist members of his mega-church. It may take a platform release to get this one going, but a brave distributor could turn this into a sleeper hit. Greg Kinnear, Marisa Tomei and Ed Harris co-star.
We'll be giving you the low-down on all the action at the festival, as well as our take on the films and the experience throughout its duration, so stay tuned for more Sundance 2011 coverage!
Invincible is Rudy and The Rookie all rolled into one. Set in the mid-‘70s Mark Wahlberg stars as the real-life Vince Papale a blue-collar Philadelphian down on his luck after his wife leaves him. His only solace is playing football with his cronies and rooting for his beloved Philadelphia Eagles who are in a real rut. Newly hired head coach the legendary Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear) decides to infuse some new blood into the team by holding open tryouts. All of Vince’s friends think he’d be perfect and urge him to go for it. He does makes it and is soon playing with some of his idols much to their chagrin. I mean who is this punk anyway? Sure he’s got some excellent instincts but can he really be a NFL player with no experience? Yes in fact he can proving to all those regular Joes out there you can live the dream. Yeah yeah. Unfortunately none of the actors really add anything either. Wahlberg is definitely a natural to play this kind of role having already done so in Rock Star. At least in Invincible he gets to show off some of his athletic abilities rather than just his bare chest in black leather pants. But the performance is run of the mill. As is Kinnear who as Vermeil takes on the headaches of turning a losing team into winners all while his supportive wife sweetly reassures him he’s doing the very best he can. Seen it. To their credit some of the supporting actors—including Kirk Acevedo (The New World) Michael Kelly (Dawn of the Dead) and Michael Rispoli (Mr. 3000)—paint a convincing picture of genuine camaraderie between local Philadelphians. And Elizabeth Banks (The 40 Year-Old Virgin) rounds things out as Vince’s cute love interest (and eventual real-life wife) who knows a few things about football by golly. You’d think Invincible would be a no-brainer feel-good kind of sports flick. It’s based on a real-life person has that whole underdog thing going for it and it’s football. What could go wrong with that? Nothing really besides the fact it’s been done about a hundred times over—and has now been left in the hands of newbies. First-time director Ericson Core a former cinematographer and writer Brad Gann are clearly green doing things by the play book line for line. It’s scary helming a feature film for a big studio like Disney who had such sport hits like The Rookie and Remember the Titans. Perhaps Core wanted to go more out on a limb but was reigned in. Who knows? The football scenes are definitely the highlight and Core handles the action well. I mean you do want Papale to prove himself the natural athlete he truly is and make all his homies proud. But the rest of it is just blah.
Following word that the BBC packed a studio audience for one of its talk shows about the WTC attack with pro-Arab supporters, the London Times is reporting that the publicly funded broadcaster had invited a fierce critic of British and American Middle East policy to appear on the same program, then had uninvited him. The Times said that George Galloway, a Labor Party member of parliament, had agreed to cut short a vacation in Portugal in order to appear on the program and was on his way to the airport when he received word that his invitation was withdrawn without explanation. Meanwhile, BBC Director-General Greg Dyke has sent an apology to former U.S. Ambassador Philip Lader, who was the target of attack from the pro-Arabs during the broadcast. The BBC had previously defended the program.
How do you sell a really big summer movie if all the good guys, including your major stars, die at the end? (At least Kate Winslet's Rose Dewitt Bukater, if not poor Leo, survived the "Titanic" !)
When the film is Warner Bros.' "The Perfect Storm," which opens later this month, stars George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg have to take a back seat to the movie's real star – the storm itself.
At least that's how Warner Bros.' marketing campaign has lined up its ducks. In the print ads, trailers, TV ads, Web and radio promotions, it's the storm, storm, storm (and loud she is!) they're pushing. There's barely a glimpse of George and Mark, who were seen together last year in "Three Kings."
This marketing manoeuvering for "The Perfect Storm" was surely tricky, especially since the huge marquee value of Clooney and Wahlberg had to be devalued. The film is based on Sebastian Junger's big bestseller of the same title about the real-life 1991 storm that claimed all six lives aboard the Gloucester, Mass. fishing vessel Andrea Gail. Millions of readers already know what happened to the fisherman.
So, while the storm may not have been as "perfect" and infamous as the iceberg that got the Titanic, there's plenty of awareness out there that "The Perfect Storm" has a bummer of an ending. Hence, the savvy marketing that has made The Storm the star (new Oscar category, Best Storm?).
When it blows into theaters June 30th, "The Perfect Storm," like the storm it depicts, will be huge. Director Wolfgang Petersen, who so brilliantly delivered life underwater in the German U-boat blockbuster "Das Boot," will show us what he can do above the waves. And those waves can be 100' high, a whole lot taller than Clooney and Wahlberg.
ALLEY SPAWNS STAR?:The New York New Media Assn.'s recent panel, "Entertainment Online: Are We Having Fun Yet?," made two things perfectly clear: No, we are not having fun yet, and, no, we are not making money yet.
Nor was there any consensus about what "entertainment" actually is. In fact, the real news last Tuesday was that high-profile Alley watcher and media maven Jason McCabe Calacanis, one of the evening's not-having-fun-yet panelists, might become a movie star. But more on that later.
Panel moderator and L.A. Times journo Leah Gentry kept hammering the distinguished panel, which included Calacanis, XM Satellite Radio President and CEO Hugh Panero, party animal and Pseudo founder Josh Harris, and gamester Greg Costikyan, with the question "How do you make money with entertainment content?" Only Panero's subscription-based venture, which will deliver a great variety of digitally-crisp radio channels to cars, suggested a viable business model, except that XM's "fun" is down the road, so to speak, since the venture has yet to launch its satellites.
Unfortunately, that knotty question of fun which was to be the focus of the evening's discussion never even got addressed until an audience member – no doubt wanting to get his money's worth (tickets began at $15 a pop) -- posed the embarrassing question during Q&A. Only one panelist, "fun" guy Harris, dared wrestle with the audacious inquiry by confessing that his idea of fun on the Net is playing Solitaire on his Windows desktop.
So what about all these short films, games, flash animations, etc. spinning around the Web? Gamemeister Costikyan, who wrote the book "The Future of Online Games," kept waxing enthusiastic about gaming's popularity and "stickiness" on the Web (So many people do it! The Web's interactive capabilities make games a natural! Players keep coming back!). Still, Greg didn't show us the money.
So while matters of money and fun were left in the dust as panelists kept emphasizing the new medium's infancy (Look how long cable took to catch on!), the real "entertainment" and "fun" news of the evening was broken by Calacanis, who announced that he has a speaking role in Wayne Wang's upcoming, digitally-captured feature "Center of the World."
Calacanis did not discuss plot or his role but allowed that he also contributed to the screenplay, which Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt wrote.
So what is "Center of the World" about? According to Artisan Entertainment, which is producing with Redeemable Features and gave us that little item known as "The Blair Witch Project," "Center..." is in the tradition of such ultra-steamy films as "Last Tango in Paris," "9 ½ Weeks," and "In the Realm of the Senses."
The story's hero, played by Peter Sarsgaard ("Boys Don't Cry"), is a young computer wizard in San Francisco who has just become an IPO multimillionaire. Apparently he drops some of this newly-won coin at a chic club where he meets a beautiful stripper. Immediately attracted to one another, they take off for three days in Las Vegas where they explore the limits of their sexuality and the nature of passion.
Hopefully they keep their cell phones off and hopefully ever-inquisitive Web Watcher Calacanis stays in character and doesn't ruin their offline onscreen fun.
A MATTER OF 'SURVIVAL'?: As the insatiable appetite for reality-based television becomes more of a, well, reality, producers are frantically scurrying for the Next Next Thing in this exploding genre. And Buzz/Saw radar may have picked up some news-breaking signals regarding a new series.
The reality craze derives from early TV's game shows, gained impetus with PBS's "American Family," and really got going with Court TV, MTV's "The Real World," Robin Leach's leering "Rich and Famous" series, and E! Entertainment's coverage of how we party and have fun.
Cable's growing hunger for things real is even taking us inside the human body as a number of shows feature actual medical procedures. And PBS is back in the game with "1900 House."
Now, comes reality's biggest audience-winning coup. CBS's new "Survivor" series, with its weekly look at a cross-section of regular folk marooned on a island and chowing down on rats or live worm-like bugs, just trounced ABC's "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire." This week marks the season premiere of "The Real World" and later this summer comes CBS's "Big Brother," another import from Europe, that keeps constant surveillance over a group of people packed into a house from which, except for one person, they will, one by one, be voted out by audiences.
But, could a mysterious new series called "Ship Mates" ("Noah's Love Ark" and "Shipboard Romance" are other titles under consideration), uh, blow "Survivor," "Big Brother," the lot of em out of the water?
The alleged series combines four of America's biggest crazes -- reality programming, luxury cruise ships, fast and easy money, and the Internet! -- with the profound human need to be loved, the omnipresent tingle of real paranoia, and that old perennial sex.
Throw in for good measure Big Stars and a whiff of an already proven TV classic ("The Love Boat") and, voila! You have "Noah's Love Ark" (our preferred title).
Quite simply, "Noah's Love Ark" brings twenty singles together in the sealed-off, totally opulent first class area of a mega-cruise ship for two weeks. The ten men and ten women, who do not use their real names and will be totally isolated from the outside world, will eat sumptuous meals, play a series of shipboard games and indulge in a variety of networking and entertainment activities until they pair off.
Audiences will participate by predicting the results on the Net. The first few to identify who pairs off with whom wins. And the twenty participants have a chance to win big if they can identify -- the Big Phony among them!
This is where the paranoia comes in. "Noah's Love Ark" pro ucers will recruit a budding actor to play one of the love-hungry singles. They will invent a character he or she will have to maintain throughout the trip. Whoever of the twenty first spots the actor and successfully "outs" him/her is the on-board winner.
Of course, the show's Big Stars will be flown in to a port city to be brought on board for a day or two to entertain the troops, just like on other major cruise ships. As the cruise industry gets more competitive, companies will be dying to show off their boats and will be happy to make them available to "Noah's..." producers for free. So even the show's producers come up winners!
And of course, the concept allows for tons of variations: gay cruises, ethnic cruises, yuppie cruises, cruises for antique lovers who are single, cruises for widows and widowers or Net junkies who'd have to give up their habit for a few weeks. In "reality," it could go on and on. And so could we...