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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In just about every one of Kevin Hart's scenes in Ride Along, there's a joke that is just aching to find its way out of the diminutive, rascally comic actor. Hart is a small-scale physical comedian — of the same ilk as Jack Black — who puts nuclear-degree energy into his facial contortions, anatomical outbursts, and the delivery of every gag in general. If only he had material that was crafted with the same energy.
Unfortunately, nothing else about Ride Along seems at all "hard at work." Not the script, which pads a lifeless story with lazy comedy, and certainly not his screen partner Ice Cube, whose only stage direction seems to be "frown, and be taller than Kevin Hart." So lifeless is Ice Cube that even his machismo-obsessed straight man bit doesn't really work. Instead of the virile and intimidating "bad cop," he comes off as a disapproving middle aged dad without much to show for his own life.
But the script pairs the wily, overzealous high school security guard and video game junkie Ben (Hart) with no-nonsense lawman James (Ice Cube) on the titular ride along, with the scrappy cop-wannabe hoping to prove to the force veteran that he's good enough to marry the latter's younger sister. In earnest, he's not. Ben never puts any respectable effort into learning the tools of the trade, insisting on employing his amateur style and controlling the radio despite his proclamations that he wants, and deserves, James' trust. And James is no saint either — he's irresponsible on crime scenes, violent with perps, and disgruntled to the point of being unable to work with anybody else on the force. These are not good police officers... of course, you'll say, this is a comedy. But where are the laughs, then?
They're not absent entirely, you just have to look for them. In a movie so focused with big, broad humor, it's the smaller comedy that actually lands best. Hart's background mutterings and fumblings, his emoticon-laden texts to girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter, whose only stage direction seems to be "smile, and never wear a full outfit of clothing"), and a bizarre repetition of the word "weird" from supporting player John Leguizamo. All good for unexpected chuckles, while jokes like Hart facing off with a pre-teen or being blown backwards into a brick wall after firing a large gun are all lazy, familiar, and flat.
Structurally, the script is a mess. Ride Along spends far too much time on set up — we get it, Hart and his soon-to-be-brother-in-law Ice Cube don't get along — and far too much time on wrap-up — there's a gigantic, dramatic warehouse shootout that, in any other movie, would be the climax, but there's plenty more to go after that — without any cohesive middle to make the movie feel like... a movie.
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Hart, who leaps at every comic opportunity like a kangaroo (wallaby would be more appropriate), is suited just right for a buddy cop comedy, but he needs something fresh with which to work — a real character, an interesting story, actually funny jokes. Even just one of these would be fine!
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This season premiere has everything you could possibly want: action, dancing, a Star Trek cameo, scandalous revelations, and even a little cross-dressing. The only thing it doesn’t seem to have is the resident Lost Girl Bo (Anna Silk). Silk was on maternity leave because she just gave birth to a baby succubus human child. This season definitely looks like it will be a major upgrade from last season.
Kenzi (Ksenia Solo) starts snooping and she stumbles upon the Una Mens. They are an ancient sect created to enforce the Fae government, so basically the eldest elders. Given all the craziness that happened last season with Hale (K.C. Collins) being ousted as the Ash, and Evony the Morrigan (Emmanuelle Vaugier) declaring war against humans -- not to mention that whole Fae experiment lab subplot -- it makes sense. Luckily, it seems there might be someone cleaning up the writing because last season seemed a little sloppy.
Of course, Kenzi gets caught and despite her wit can’t get out until she reveals she isn’t human but Fae and then shoots out fireworks. Yes, fireworks! She has officially transitioned from token human to Jubilee from the X-Men. Sure, at times Kenzi can be a liability but geeks everywhere will shudder to think of her as the mutant superheroes’ lamest ally.
Hale continues to pine after Kenzi. But suddenly, completely out of nowhere, so is Dyson (Kris Holden-Ried). But what’s even stranger is it seems that no one even remembers Bo. Especially, when out of nowhere Aife (Inga Cadranel) arrives on Kenzi’s doorstep looking for her daughter. In a very cool, geektastic flashback, Kenzi’s lunch meeting with Aife mirrors her first meeting with Bo. Kenzi learns Aife’s memory has been tampered with. She asks Trick (Rick Howland) his advice but when he sees a photo of Bo his magical blood goes nuts.
It becomes clear that everyone’s memories have been altered. They need to track down a super special compass. Their only solution is to attend a Dark Fae party held by a collector Engelram (George Takei). Dyson goes to ask the new Morrigan Vex (Paul Amos). He blackmails Vex because apparently everyone thinks Evony died on the toilet (according to Vex).
Kenzi must go undercover at the event. It’s nice to see her on her own. Her relationship with Bo is great but it’s great to see her unique human abilities and her vital part of the group. However, with great power comes great responsibility. It seems her Jubilee makeover is because she’s getting help from The Druid (Tim Rozon) and he wants his money.
At the event, Kenzi stuns everyone. She takes Hale to the dance floor and showcases her amazing ballroom dancing skills. Solo was a professional dancer and even starred in Black Swan. Dyson gets hit on by a nymph (Mia Kirshner). Dyson cuts in and dances with Kenzi and Hale. Kenzie wins the attention of Engelram who is a wish granter. She gets the compass but then he wants to eat her. Haven’t these people learned that Dark Fae can’t be trusted?
Vex arrives on the scene and gets into an epic fight with Dyson and Hale. Dyson and Kenzi take on the Engleram who not only has a murderous tale but snake puns as bad as Arnold Schwarzenegger in Batman & Robin. They succeed in returning everyone’s memories. However, at that same moment in a bad part of town Aife and Trick have met for the first time in hundreds of years and girlfriend has a knife!
The episode ends with Lauren (Zoie Palmer) regaining her memories. Her bad wig and nametag reveal that she’s undercover and on the run. Dyson is still searching for Tamsin (Rachel Skarsten) because she was the last to see Bo alive. Meanwhile, two eyes open and we see Bo’s signature baby blues.
Best Lines of the Episode
This is so Raiders [of the Lost Ark] Here's hoping this Ark contains less Nazi face-melting goodness. - Kenzi during her stakeout
Kind of a dude's name am I right? - Kenzi in response to Bo's name
It's true there's no record or physical indications I've given birth. Though a succubus' body is her weapon so there would be no wear and tear, so to speak. Would you like to see for yourself? - Aife
Scanning for stretchmarks ... Pass. - Kenzi in response to Aife
Evanescence! -Vex in response to Hale’s powers
Tyler Perry's most famous character Madea is actually the least obnoxious part of his latest movie Madea's Witness Protection. Given that Madea is Perry in drag as an overweight gray-haired woman who delights in threatening people with violence this is pretty amazing.
The Madea movies aren't supposed to be nuanced character portraits they're Teachable Moments. In this case it's about shady businesses and Ponzi schemes — Bernie Madoff is even referred to by name. Although there's no doubt we're all feeling the repercussions of the 2008 financial crisis and will be for some time to come Madoff isn't exactly breaking news any more. Perry also wants to have his cake and eat it too showing the greed and corruption of big companies while also offering at least one of the people at fault both the benefit of the doubt and a shot at redemption. None of it adds up and half of the movie is taken up by a tiresome group of snobs who deserve their comeuppance at the hands of Madea.
The Needlemans are a rich white family whose patriarch is inadvertently involved in a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme. The mob is somehow involved — don't ask — so the Atlanta ADA Brian (also Perry) puts them up at the safest place he knows: his Aunt Madea's house. George played by Eugene Levy's eyebrows is such a schmuck that he had no idea he was being set up to take the fall or that the company he worked for was stealing millions of dollars from charities. Denise Richards plays his typically brittle and much younger housewife Kate whose main interests seem to be yoga ("yoda" in Madea-speak) and carbs. They both let George's daughter Cindy (Danielle Campbell) walk all over them and George and Kate's son Howie (Devan Leos) is the subject of many "fat loser"-type jokes. George's mother Barbara (Doris Roberts) is either senile or pretending to be or is just pilled out from all the Valium they give her; she's also a horny old broad that keeps making googly eyes at Joe (Madea's brother Brian's father and of course Tyler Perry in old man drag). Cindy is so awful that it's a relief when Madea lets loose on her even though it's a truly cruel prank that sets the girl straight. They are all totally boring and incredibly annoying so much so that any time Madea or even Joe appears it's a relief.
The other half of the Teachable Moments equation is Jake played by Romeo Miller. Jake was living a life of crime until he got straightened out and then his dad a sickly preacher played by John Amos trusted him with all the money to pay off the church mortgage. Unfortunately he invested it in a company in New York that's no longer answering their phones. Jake tries to hold up Madea for cash after she leaves the grocery store. She gives him a sound talking-to the gist of which is he should get a job and stop trying to rob old ladies who have worked hard all their life. (True!) However he's just trying to raise the money he lost investing in a company in New York the money his sick father gave him to pay off the church mortgage that's now lost. In case you can't follow the dots that would be the company George worked for that lost all the money for his dad's church leading him to a life of robbing little old ladies for pocket change. Besides the tragic waste of Amos Marla Gibbs plays a nosy neighbor for about half a minute.
Perry's writing shows a disturbing amount of cynicism if not downright meanness for a family movie. When Kate and Madea have a heart-to-heart about Cindy Kate confesses that Cindy thinks her dad cheated on her mom with Kate. Kate says "What kind of person do you think I am?" And Madea purrs sotto voice "A woman." There are also plenty of jokes about Madea's previous life as among other things a stripper especially in conjunction with her weight. (She had to use a telephone pole when she danced. Get it? 'Cause she's fat! Hah!) It's unfortunate that the spoof reel that plays after the credits is more entertaining than the movie itself -- even if those jokes include Charlie Sheen grabbing Madea's boobs Madea/Perry pranking room service about the bidet and Eugene Levy making prison rape jokes.
I was one of the few people who were impressed by Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls a well-intentioned attempt to bring the feminist experimental play by Ntozake Shange to life. That didn't compel me to seek out any of his other movies though so Madea's Witness Protection was my first foray into the franchise that's made him a very very rich and powerful man. The weirdness of Perry's vision is well-documented and he has fans across the board. Unfortunately I'm just one of them.
Gilmore a World War II veteran, died of natural causes on 25 September (10) in Irvine, California.
He started his lengthy career as a U.S. radio announcer for hit shows including Amos 'n' Andy, The Sears Radio Theater and Red Ryder, before turning his attentions to TV and film.
On the small screen, he lent his voice to programmes including The George Gobel Show, An Evening With Fred Astaire and Highway Patrol. He also appeared on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Waltons and Dragnet.
His film career took off in the 1950s and '60s, when his voice could be heard in trailers and documentaries including It's a Wonderful Life, Rear Window, Vertigo, War of the Worlds, Bye Bye Birdie and White Christmas.
Gilmore served as the national president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists from 1961 to 1963 and helped found the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters.
He taught announcing at the University of Southern California and co-authored Television and Radio Announcing.
Gilmore is survived by his wife of 72 years, Grace, two daughters, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Celebs including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn and Antonio Banderas are bound for Venice, Italy, to attend the 60th annual Venice Film Festival that gets underway Aug. 27.
Workers Monday were adding finishing touches to the wavelike walkway leading up to the Art Deco theater--the site where 20 feature films will compete for the coveted Golden Lion. This year's entries include Robert Benton's The Human Stain, starring Kidman and Anthony Hopkins, and the Coen brothers' Intolerable Cruelty, headlining Zeta-Jones and George Clooney.
The festival will screen more than 140 films, many of which are world premieres, including Woody Allen's Anything Else. The pic, which stars Christina Ricci and Jason Biggs, has been kept closely under wraps. According to Reuters, Allen hands over the leading man role to Biggs here.
In the film, Allen plays a struggling and insecure artist in New York having an affair with a self-centered, younger woman played by Ricci. When her boyfriend (Biggs) finds out about the affair, he confronts the older man--as does her father, who chases the artist with a loaded shotgun.
Director Martin Scorsese, meanwhile, is set to present audiences with his series of documentary films titled The Blues. Matchstick Men, the Ridley Scott drama starring Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell, will also screen out of competition at the festival.
The festival also acquired a string of new films from celebrated filmmakers such as British director Peter Greenaway's The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers and Mexican helmer Alejandro Gonzalez's 21 Grams, starring Penn and Benicio Del Toro.
Two Iranian films likely to be shrouded in controversy include an entry from a 14-year-old female director and a film about a Taliban soldier ordered to kill a woman. Israeli director Amos Gitai is also slated to present his latest film.
The Venice Film Festival runs Aug. 27 through Sept. 6.