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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Welcome to The Voice, the reality singing competition show that’s done for chairs what La-Z-Boy did for music. Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, and Cee Lo Green are back to duke it out in the fourth installment of season three’s blind auditions.
Throughout the episode, Blake giddily brandishes his Male Vocalist of the Year award from ACM, the Academy of Country Music (pro tip, Blake: if you need to explain an acronym four times, it becomes exponentially less impressive). He keeps his trophy tucked behind him as a bargaining chip, and one can only imagine that he’s commissioned a specially designed nook for it in the shower.
Seventeen-year-old Melanie Martinez, our first hopeful, is a human cartoon character: half-Pebbles Flintstone and half- Sailor Jupiter, or maybe just a Tim Burton-redesigned Powerpuff Girl.She offers a completely unexpected cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” playing guitar while keeping time on a tambourine with her feet (lending further credence to my Flintstones comparison. Her sexy, playful voice bears — as Adam says — some similarities to Björk’s, and the judges praise her for sounding as unique as she looks.
Melanie’s Result: Team Adam
Backstage, Cupid has dozens of contestants and their families line-dancing to his “Cupid Shuffle,” the 2007 novelty song that crowned him king of bar mitzvahs and roller rinks across the land. “Does this whole idea of being a one-hit wonder just eat at you?” asks Carson Daly, whose community college Intro Psychology class is going well, thank you.
Despite The Voice’s insistence on playing B-roll of him dancing alone in front of a mirror — something no human male has been able to pull off non-creepily since The Silence of the Lambs — Cupid seems like a kind, genuinely talented man, but sadly proves to be his own worst enemy.
Although he longs to be taken seriously, Cupid bizarrely chooses to audition with the “Cupid Shuffle” (forever the poor man’s “Cha Cha Slide”), the very song that both “defines” and “confines” him.
Bad call, bro. Cupid’s adequate performance draws no interest from the judges, but when their chairs turn, Cee Lo recognizes him instantly. “That’s him, that’s his actual song,” Green cries, and the awkward, auditorium-wide silence that follows has permanently replaced the naked-in-front-of-the-whole-class scenario as my subconscious’s go-to nightmare.
At Cee Lo’s request, he sings something else — a fantastic a capella “Let’s Get It On” — but Cupid’s arrow has already missed its mark.
Up next on The Voice, Marcia Griffiths and Los del Rio.
Cupid’s Result: Team Nobody
A single father, Brian Scartocci delivers a powerful, capable version of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” that’s a little John Legend, a little Michael Bublé. I find him inexplicably annoying in spite of his obvious talent, mostly because he’s wearing a scorpion belt buckle that is as hideous as it is large (very).
In wooing Brian to his team, Adam can’t help but note that he has actually had the chance to meet Stevie Wonder, as well as to sing with Stevie Wonder, and has he mentioned that he knows Stevie Wonder personally?
Brian’s Result: Team Adam
Married couple Shawn and Natasha perform together as Rhythm Amplitude — I mean, Tempo Bandwidth — I mean, Beat Frequency. With Shawn’s shaved head plus indoor sunglasses and Natasha’s crimped, bleached hair plus purple eyeshadow, it’s like a celebrity look-alike agency sent over a third-rate Pitbull and a fourth-rate Xtina.
Some of Beat Frequency’s harmonies on Katy Perry’s “E.T.” are gorgeous — in particular, Natasha’s voice can soar — but Shawn’s take on Kanye West’s rap is downright cringe-worthy.
Beat Frequency’s Result: Team Christina
College athlete Tyler Lillestol decided to pursue singing when he gave up on baseball — yup, that’s the music business for you, good old reliable plan B.
Tyler recently sang the national anthem at Dodger Stadium. After his performance, Carson Daly appeared on the Jumbotron to invite Lillestol to the blind auditions, and then spent the next 10 minutes unsuccessfully soliciting someone, anyone, to appear on the Kiss Cam with him.
Tyler’s “U Got It Bad” demonstrates a smooth, silky voice, but not one of professional quality.
Tyler’s Result: Team Nobody
You can tell Liz Davis is a country girl because she likes “to get on the back of a four-wheeler and ride around for no reason,” which is one aspect of Southern life that I’m pretty sure they glossed over in Gone with the Wind.
Despite being a pretty 25-year-old with kind of a young- Jean Smart thing going on, Liz belts “Here for the Party” like a brassy, middle-aged barfly — which is to say, exactly as the song is meant to be sung.
Liz’s Result: Team Blake
(During the commercial, I discover through some characteristically neurotic Googling that Liz previously competed on something called P. Diddy’s Starmaker, a reality music contest that she ultimately won — so I guess the show’s title was a little misleading, am I right, guys?
But get this. Liz actually performed the same song on that other show. And that’s not all. It turns out that Beat Frequency briefly appeared on The X Factor, singing — wait for it — “E.T.”
I feel so dirty.)
Despite Senator Ted Stevens’s (R-Alaska) infamous insistence that the Internet is but a “series of tubes,” Anchorage native JR Aquino is a web sensation — his homemade music videos have logged more than 45 million views on YouTube, where he’s one of the top 100 most-subscribed musicians in the world.
JR’s beautiful falsetto sounds uncertain on the highest notes of “Just the Way You Are,” but his voice has a sweetness that would make Bruno Mars proud.
JR’s Result: Team Cee Lo
Carson surprises Agina Alvarez — not to be confused with her brother, Enis — with an invitation to the blind auditions while she folds towels at the tennis club where she works. Signed to Sony Records and then an indie label as a teenager, she released a Latin album before her second record company shelved her.
Agina’s screechy disco voice brings lots of power to “Turn the Beat Around,” but all in all, is far from the most pleasant (or least feline) thing I have ever heard.
Agina’s Result: Team Nobody
Our next contestant is Nicholas David: stay-at-home dad by day, musician by night. Nicholas struggled with his drinking and his weight after college — ballooning to 300 pounds — but worked his way to back to health with the love and support of his fiancée. It’s phenomenal that he was able to “shed the weight” and “shed the booze,” but what about the facial bird’s nest that he mistakenly believes to be a beard?
Nicholas’s soulful, jazzy version of “Stand by Me” wins him a place on Team Cee Lo, though it’s clear to me he’s really a lost member of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.
Nicholas’s Result: Team Cee Lo
Alessandra Guercio is a 17-year-old LaGuardia student — that’s the Fame high school, not the airport. LaGuardia Arts blends a normal high school curriculum with rigorous performing arts training, a drama geek wildlife preserve where no slushies are thrown (is it just me or does Alessandra have a little Rachel Berry going on in the face?).
Her cover of “The Climb” is impressively strong and controlled, but almost clinical — exactly as if she’d learned to sing in a classroom.
“It was just a great…vocal performance… It was just, like, awesome,” Cee Lo stammers, presumably occupied with desperately trying to recall the age of consent in the state of California.
Alessandra’s Result: Team Adam
Dancer Avery Wilson has never had a singing lesson. Turns out he was right to save the money — his panty-dropping “Without You” is unpolished but beautiful. His voice oozes with personality; Wilson is, stylistically, Alessandra’s inverse.
Adam calls the crowd’s boisterous response to Avery the show’s “most spirited” yet. The judges are equally captivated, and Avery earns the episode’s only four-chair turnaround.
Avery’s Result: Team Cee Lo
The Voice is back tonight at 8 pm for more blind auditions. Will there ever be anything but blind auditions, or will this “season” end next week with each coach hosting a 16-guest musical sleepover?
Get at me on Twitter @mollyfitz.
[Image Credit: NBC]
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Kristen Stewart has already made her mark as a world-class actress and vampire-dating extraordinaire, but the young Hollywood star is now about to add fragrance model to her ever-growing resume. Stewart announced her plans to be the new face of Balenciaga's new scent, Florabotanica, back in January — and now the official campaign in finally underway, showcasing the actress in a stunning new ad.
Though Stewart isn't smiling (surprise, surprise), the array of colors is immediately eye-catching, which got us thinking what this perfume will actually be like — and what it might say about those who wear it. Though we've already told you what your preferred celebrity fragrances say about you, Stewart could prove to be a nice little addition to this scent-ful breakdown:
Fragrance Name: Florabotanica
What The Name Sounds Like: The name Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart will eventually name their child.
What We Think the Perfume Smells Like: Blood (hey, she's a vampire now, right?).
What It Actually Smells Like: Bright citrus and very floral.
Perfect Consumer: You act like you don't care about anything, but deep down you really do. You enjoyed going through a whole Emo phase in high school and continue to exude your rebellious nature even to this day. And while your fashion sense can be a little iffy at times, you definitely have great taste in men. You aren't afraid to date co-workers.
Click here to check out our other celebrity fragrance assessments and find out what your favorite celebrity perfume says about you!
[Photo credit: John Aquino via Women’s Wear Daily]
Follow Kelly on Twitter @KellyBean0415
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Kristen Stewart Becomes the Face of New Balenciaga Scent
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.
At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.