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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According to The Hollywood Reporter, Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Diego Luna, and Christina Applegate will star in Book of Life, an animated feature from the twisted mind of Guillermo del Toro.
Jorge Gutierrez is directing Book of Life, which centers around Manolo, a young man who embarks on an incredible adventure that spans three fantastical worlds, where he must brave his biggest fears.
The cast also includes Ice Cube, Kate del Castillo, Ron Perlman (duh!), and a bevy of actors including Cheech Marin, Hector Elizondo, Placido Domingo, and Ana de la Reguera. Given the cast and the information released about the film, it seems that the feature is going to have a rich Latin flair. It is also being reported that the film will offer a fresh take on current pop songs.
Del Toro is known for his ability to create impressive and imaginative visuals with gothic undertones. We’re excited to see what a visionary director can do with a full-length animated movie, especially after watching his creepy Simpsons opener that still has us checking under the couch for monsters. Even though del Toro is only producing, we're positive that his vision and influence will spill into all aspects of production.
Pictured (from left to right): Jennifer Lawrence in 'The Hunger Games,' Kathryn Bigelow, Lena Dunham, Jessica Chastain in 'Zero Dark Thirty,' and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer
If you have eyes, the ability to read, and Internet access, you’ve probably read an article at some point this year about The Magnanimous Excellence of The Female Species and How Women Shall Inherit The Earth As Men Go Running Scared Into Oblivion. You’d think some Amazonian tribe of women was running rampant, snatching up cities across the U.S. and claiming the land for all possessors of lady parts. Sometime in the past 12 months, we decided that 2012 was the year of women, especially in the entertainment industry. But that’s not exactly true.
What 2012 actually is, is a year of some women. But our oversimplification of the status of women this year is understandable, however inaccurate. When our discourse is dominated by proclamations of women “dominating” the Senate after a record 20 women won their respective elections, the “high” number of female showrunners in television, Marissa Mayer’s corporate domination as a working mother and CEO of Yahoo, Lena Dunham’s ability to project all of our neuroses on national television in a thoughtful and powerful way, and the notion that film characters like The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Zero Dark Thirty’s feminist-dream Maya (Jessica Chastain) signal girl power as the new norm, it’s no wonder we feel that women in 2012 hold more weight than ever. But perhaps it’s not the events themselves that are noteworthy, but rather our great proclivity for the discussion.
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“I think 2012 is a year in which women have a really powerful appetite to celebrate powerful women and our questions about where and when women are not powerful,” says Clare Winterton, Executive Director of the International Museum of Women. “The rate at which we’ve given due to those issues is very high. Whether or not that visibility is matched by concrete signs of advancement for women across the board is a big question,” she adds. The discussion around women and women’s progress, in Hollywood and elsewhere, has been given great wings in 2012, but it certainly doesn’t mean that suddenly, just before the Mayans predicted the downfall of civilization, women have “done it.” It’s still a work in progress, but one that saw a few significant boosts this year.
It’s something co-producer and co-screenwriter for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Philippa Boyens, has experienced firsthand. “I just did a producers roundtable, which was fantastic, and there were lots of female producers … there was once a time when there wouldn’t have been any women at that table, but now we make up half the table,” she says. And Boyens’ moment isn’t a singular piece of evidence for women advancing in entertainment.
Hollywood in 2012 boasts a laundry list of lady-led accomplishments. More and more women, like New Girl’s Liz Meriwether, Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23’s Nahnatchka Khan, and of course Girls’ incomparable Dunham, are running things behind the scenes of some of pop culture’s most talked about shows. Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to her Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker, and its impressive heroine are wowing critics as the film quickly rolls towards yet another Best Director nod for Bigelow. The Venice Film Festival made headlines this year because unlike Cannes — which failed to qualify a single female director for the illustrious Palme d’Or award — it offered up four main competition spots to female directors (albeit out of a whopping 17 spots). USC film school, one of the top in the world, cites an undergraduate class that is almost half women (41 percent, to be exact), suggesting the promise of more and more great women behind the camera. Even film critics like AP’s Christy Lemire and LA Weekly’s Karina Longworth continue to be significant voices in a male-dominated conversation, and Emily Nussbaum has just completed her first year as the voice of TV criticism for The New Yorker and as one of the top voices in the field itself. And while this lineup may be enough to send some of us into the streets crying, “We’ve made it, ladies!” it’s not time for that. Yet.
“The field is so much bigger now,” says independent filmmaker and NYU film school professor Christine Choy. “But I can still count the great female directors on one hand … and in general, they don’t last too long,” she adds. For every Dunham and Bigelow, we find a handful of forgotten directors like Winter’s Bone director Debra Granik, whose name faded into the background after they rolled up the red carpet at the 2011 Academy Awards. And while folks like Bigelow and Dunham certainly seem to be standing the test of Hollywood time — which tends to move even faster than that speedy New York minute — they can’t single-handedly change the face of the unarguably male-dominated entertainment industry. “One director is not enough,” says Choy.
And that’s because progress don’t simply manifests itself like a happy ending in a princess movie. The reality is a little more complex, as is the goal of equalizing the positions of women and men in entertainment. Our infatuation with the progress made by our real-life heroines doesn’t change the fact that they’re just starting to get the ball rolling.
“It’s a fair assessment to say women aren’t progressing as fast some of the popular representations of women would like you to believe,” says Winterton. Successes on the scale of Marissa Mayer and Bigelow obfuscate the indicators of the work that’s left to be done, like the fact that 2012 saw almost no growth in women holding top positions at Fortune 500 companies or the fact that for every woman who’s a noteworthy director or showrunner in entertainment, there are legions of men outnumbering her.
While 2012 delivered us legions of powerful female characters – even Twilight’s Bella pulled ahead of her brooding lover as a hero in the series’ final installment this November – and powerful women, it came with the pall of the realization that the world hasn’t exactly caught up. Body shaming was rampant in coverage of some of the most successful women on the planet: Lady Gaga, Jessica Simpson, and even Adele were subject to chatter about their weight, completely undermining the level to which all three of these women are dominating their industries (Simpson, of course has a wildly successful clothing and accessories empire). Acclaimed author Bret Easton Ellis brought the discourse down several notches when he claimed Bigelow’s work was only acclaimed because she’s “a very hot woman.” The woman behind the female empowerment tale Brave was outed as the film’s director due to “creative differences” – a change many some critics fear will mar the progress of female animation directors.
If 2012 proved anything it's that the work is not done. If anything, the conversation is just getting started.
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[Photo Credit: Photo Illustration by Hollywood.com; Photo Credits: WENN (2); WireImage; Lionsgate; Columbia Pictures; Disney/Pixar]
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David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
Will Ferrell's Semi-Pro opened at the top of the North American box office this weekend, grossing $15.3 million, but the basketball comedy fell short of Ferrell’s previous blockbuster openings in the sports spoof genre.
The New Line Cinema film, starring Ferrell as the owner of a fictional basketball franchise, wasn’t as big a hit as compared to Ferrell's 2006 NASCAR parody Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, which opened at $47 million, and last year's figure skating comedy Blades of Glory, which earned $33 million in its first weekend.
"Will Ferrell is always a draw and audiences love him. But this particular weekend is not quite as strong as his earlier efforts," Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box-office tracker Media By Numbers LLC told The Associated Press.
Other openers this weekend included the historical soap-opera The Other Boleyn Girl, starring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, which debuted in fourth place with $8.3 million; and the lighthearted comedy Penelope, starring Christina Ricci, which opened in eighth place with $4 million.
The Top 12 movies took in $81 million, down 25 percent from the same weekend last year and down 10 percent from last weekend’s total of $90 million.
BOX OFFICE TOP 10 ESTIMATES
(Source: Exhibitor Relations, Inc.)
No. 1: Semi-Pro (New Line, R)
• Gross: $15.2 million
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 3,121
• Per-theater average: $4,870
No. 2: Vantage Point (Fox, PG-13)
• Gross: $13 million (-43%)
• Weeks opened: 2
• Theaters: 3,150 (+1)
• Per-theater average: $4,126
• Cume to date: $41 million
No. 3: The Spiderwick Chronicles (Paramount, PG)
• Gross: $8.7 million (-33%)
• Weeks opened: 3
• Theaters: 3,654 (-193)
• Per-theater average: $2,395
• Cume to date: $55 million
No. 4: The Other Boleyn Girl (Sony, PG-13)
• Gross: $8.3 million
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 1,166
• Per-theater average: $7,118
No. 5: Jumper (Fox, PG-13)
• Gross: $7.6 million (-40%)
• Weeks opened: 3
• Theaters: 2,429 (-302)
• Per-theater average: $2,429
• Cume to date: $66.8 million
No. 6: Step Up 2 the Streets (Walt Disney, PG-13)
• Gross: $5.7 million (-40%)
• Weeks opened: 3
• Theaters: 2,528 (+48)
• Per-theater average: $2,260
• Cume to date: $48.5 million
No. 7: Fool's Gold (Warner Bros. PG-13)
• Gross: $4.6 million (-28%)
• Weeks opened: 4
• Theaters: 2,845 (-230)
• Per-theater average: $1,648
• Cume to date: $59 million
No. 8: Penelope (Summit Ent., PG)
• Gross: $4.006 million
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 1,196
• Per-theater average: $3,349
No. 9: No Country for Old Men (Miramax, R)
• Gross: $4.005 million (+66%)
• Weeks opened: 17
• Theaters: 2,037 (+936)
• Per-theater average: $1,966
• Cume to date: $69.5 million
No. 10: Juno (Fox Searchlight, PG-13)
• Gross: $3.3 million (-19%)
• Weeks opened: 13
• Theaters: 1,631 (-96)
• Per-theater average: $2,053
• Cume to date: $135.1 million
Chicago 10 (Sony Classics, R)
• Gross: $44,800
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 14
• Per-theater average: $3,200
Indie queen Christina Ricci will be working with eclectic director Woody Allen on his next untitled project. As usual, the plot is being kept firmly under wraps, but The Hollywood Reporter notes the film will center around three young adults. Jason Biggs (American Pie) is also on board. Filming is set to start in the spring.
Ricci is hot on the independent film market right now, having starred in this year's Sundance Film Festival darling Pumpkin and Miramax Films' upcoming Prozac Nation. She'll also be seen in HBO's The Laramie Project, which airs Saturday, March 9.
In a trendy Manhattan art gallery, Susan Sarandon, Bill Pullman, Art Garfunkel and many other celebrities attended a gala preview Monday of artwork by students, faculty and alumni of the Savannah College of Art and Design. The event was hosted by James Wyeth, son of artist Andrew Wyeth and grandson of N.C.Wyeth.
Country singer Faith Hill is going to the Academy Awards. She'll be performing the song "There You'll Be" from the movie Pearl Harbor, written by Diane Warren. The song has been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Original Song category, along with other nominated songs from Monsters, Inc., The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Kate & Leopold and Vanilla Sky.
Sean Combs, whose previous aliases revolved around being called "Daddy," finally faced up to the real thing when he reached a custody and financial settlement Tuesday with former model Kimberly Porter, mother of his three-year-old son, Christian. Combs had been a no-show in court nine times over the last year and was threatened with an arrest if he failed to appear Tuesday. He'll be providing child support, health insurance and other necessities for the child.
Pop singer/actress Brandy Norwood, 23, told MTV's Carson Daly on Total Request Live Tuesday the baby she is carrying is a girl. Brandy secretly wed record producer Robert Smith, 22, last summer. The baby is due in July.
Legendary comedian Lucille Ball's childhood home was put on the market via the Internet. The two-story house in Chautauqua County in upstate New York, where Ball lived from the time she was 8 years old to the middle of her high school years, is listed on the Web site eBay for an asking price of $98,500 by real estate broker Bruce Turner. The 112-year-old house had been sitting on the regular market for nearly a year before Turner put it on eBay. So far, the house has yet to be sold.
Dana Delaney of China Beach fame is returning to television. She'll star in a new hospital drama, Presidio Med, for CBS, playing a pediatric doctor. And in other TV casting news, Saturday Night Live alum Cheri Oteri has signed up for the ABC comedy pilot With You in Spirit, about a recent college grad (Reid Scott) who ends up in Spirit, N.M., working as a reporter. Primetime television just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it?
Veteran journalist Cokie Roberts has decided to slow things down. In November, she'll be leaving ABC's This Week and co-anchor Sam Donaldson, when her contract expires. She wants to spend more time with her family. Roberts is still in conversations with ABC on what role she will play in the future with the network and will continue reporting for National Public Radio. To further fan the fire, The Hollywood Reporter reported there is speculation that George Stephanopoulos and Claire Shipman will replace Donaldson and Roberts, but ABC network officials have strongly denied the report.
ABC is just on the hot wire lately....As CBS and ABC continue to iron out their bids for talk-show host David Letterman, Ted Koppel defended his 22-year-old ABC news show Nightline, which ABC executives are rumored to be considering bumping in favor of Letterman's higher-rated show. Reuters reported Koppel wrote a op-ed piece and spoke out against the network executives. He wrote, "When Nightline is gone...and should the occasion arrive that our work might again seem relevant to the anonymous executive, it will not then be possible to reconstitute what is so easily destroyed." Letterman, however, has made it clear he will not consider moving to ABC unless the network can assure him that he is not responsible for knocking Koppel off the air.
Punk rocker Adam Ant was released on bail relating to his January arrest after an altercation in a London pub. He was arrested on charges of criminal damage, assault and possession of a firearm or imitation firearm with intention to cause fear of violence. The plea hearing is set for May 1 to decide whether the case will be heard.