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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Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
Last time Jennifer Lopez was pregnant in a movie, it didn’t work out so well for her (on many different levels). So, for her sake, let’s hope What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a different story. The singer-actress is reportedly deep in a deal with Lionsgate to play a major role in the upcoming comedy, which will chronicle six dissimilar expectant couples’ stories.
Lopez’s future is already ill-defined, as she has yet to announce whether or not she’ll be returning to American Idol. One can assume that accepting a film role will drive her further from the possibility of playing host for another season on Fox.
Also to play soon-to-be mothers in What to Expect When You’re Expecting (named for Heidi Murkoff’s and Sharon Mazel’s bestselling advice book series) are Cameron Diaz and Isla Fischer. The latter is also starring in the upcoming The Great Gatsby, for which I can't decide if I'm thrilled or terrified. Among the male cast thus far are Ed Helms—who just made me want to see this movie—and, if the studio gets its wish, the film will add Glee's Matthew Morrison, whose role on the series and musical tour would be a bit of a conflict for the film’s schedule.
Pastor Becky Fischer holds a summer camp for kids at Devil's Lake in North Dakota. She's training Christian soldiers for God's Army and Jesus Camp follows three white home-schooled Missouri children--Levi (now 13) Rachael (now 10) and Tory (now 11)--through the camp from a year ago to where they are now in their indoctrination. Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady present the religious brainwashing techniques in a slow deliberate manner as the evangelical Christian adults seem to transform the kids into Stepford-like children who spew the word of God for less than altruistic reasons. The children are shown being trained to bring Christ back to America and use their "Prophetic Gifts " of which they are told they all possess. There are also scenes of children blessing a cardboard figure of President Bush saying prayers for conservative Supreme Court justice nominees and 7-year-olds in painted faces dancing spiritual war dances believing prayer can fix their malfunctioning film projector. The filmmakers try in vain to remain objective but it's impossible. As a documentary the participants of Jesus Camp come across as realistic as they can even though they are aware of the camera at all times. Some of the scenes seem to play to the cameras in disturbing reality as the angelic faces are moved to tears by their religious fervor or turned into unworldly contortions as they speak in tongues. Levi wants to be a mega-church pastor speaking to congregations of thousands while Rachael wants to be a missionary in far-off places and is bent on recruiting her neighbor. Tory spreads her message through dance and attends anti-abortion rallies. Pastor Becky is also shown in revealing moments especially as she obsesses more about her appearance than Tammy Faye Baker would. Pastor Becky obviously allowed incredible access to the filmmakers for Jesus Camp and maybe she’ll be pleased with the way the film will get her word out. But Jesus Camp seems more suited for TV than the big screen. The ideas presented are not even remotely balanced. Well-made feature film documentaries don’t have to be unbiased but they should at least strive to address some opposite points of view. Air America radio host Mike Papantonio who is a Methodist gives the only contrary commentary about these camps but he's rather namby-pamby about it all. Those who may expect more answers from Jesus Camp--on what would make people like Pastor Betty take these kids and coach them into becoming religiously intolerant and rigid thinkers--could be sorely disappointed.