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 Harry Potter actress was stunned when the designer sent the bizarre gift and admits Lagerfeld must have got confused because her father is the only angling fan in the family.
She tells Britain's Glamour magazine, "It was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. It's actually my dad who's the fly-fisher in the family but what was so sweet was that Karl had obviously done some research, seen that I'd once donated to the Wild Trout Trust or something similar and thought this was something I would love.
"I've never used it, but it's such a beautiful object - one of the best things I've ever been sent."
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg) is what Napoleon Dynamite might’ve been had he fantasized about Jackass instead of ligers: a gawky half-wit with a penchant for stunts he can’t come close to pulling off. But when his stepfather (Ian McShane) falls gravely ill and can’t afford a heart transplant it’s just the motivation Rod needs to go that extra mile er bus. See Rod has decided to try and jump across 15 buses in hopes of raising money for his stepdad’s operation—but only to get him healthy enough for Rod to beat him fair and square in a fight (which will make more sense if you see the movie). So Rod assembles his “crew”—stepbrother/videographer/team manager Kevin (Jorma Taccone); mechanic Dave (Bill Hader); ramp builder Rico (Danny McBride); and newest member Denise (Isla Fisher) on whom Rod has a massive crush—to help whip him into shape. He hits an emotional roadblock when he learns that his real father did not in fact die testing a stunt for Evel Knievel but ultimately nothing can keep Rod down—except gravity. Usually Saturday Night Live stars have to leave the show before they can headline a movie—like Adam Sandler whose brain Samberg would clearly love to pick (and transplant into his own). But Samberg was wise to allow himself something in SNL to fall back on because his Digital Shorts talent (i.e. the Justin Timberlake collabo “D**k in a Box”) doesn’t exactly translate into feature-length humor. There are undeniably hilarious random freak-outs even to the un-stoned and in a few years he might be the Next Great SNL retiree but the jokes become one-note very quickly. So comedic voice of Generation Y(ouTube)? Not quite. He might not even be the current voice of SNL if costar Hader has any say. Hader is choosing all the right movies and roles in them (see this month’s Superbad—seriously!) and his inane humor is much more sustainable than Samberg’s. Simply looking at Hader is cause for laughter which is half the battle between these neo-SNLers. Unlike Hader Wedding Crashers star Fisher is terribly miscast. Not only does Fisher look more mature (to put it nicely) than her character is supposed to be but she’s much funnier than the stupid-funny of Hot Rod in which she of all people is the proverbial “straight man.” And in a double-take-worthy role revered actress Sissy Spacek graces the screen as Rod’s mom a la Kathy Bates in Sandler’s The Waterboy. You can take the dudes out of SNL but you can’t take the SNL out of the dudes. And the foursome of SNL contributors—Samberg Taccone Hader and Akiva Schaffer who directs—along with screenwriter Pam Brady (Team America) demonstrate why SNL is no longer much to laugh at as they replicate the show’s stupid humor under the guise of fresh humor (“fresh” because you see Andy Samberg is youngish and YouTube-cool). After about a quarter of the way in it becomes clear that Schaffer is satisfied with virtually no storyline resting the movie’s fate in the purportedly funny hands of Samberg. Granted the first quarter holds promise that the movie will take a Talladega Nights-like turn into a mock story but it remains nothing more than the silliness of Napoleon Dynamite (only not nearly as offbeat) combined with the failed stunts of Jackass (only not nearly as dangerous to the star). The Napoleonic resemblance continues with the obscure ‘80s soundtrack which is about the funniest thing Hot Rod has going for itself.