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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Madonna and Warner Music Settle Maverick Dispute
Warner Music Group has agreed to buy Madonna out of Maverick Records, the label she co-founded 12 years ago, The Associated Press reports. The label debuted strongly with Alanis Morissette's 1995 multiplatinum debut album Jagged Little Pill and more recently scored hits with Michelle Branch, the Prodigy, the Deftones and Story of the Year. Madonna, along with partners Guy Oseary and Ronnie Dashev, owned 60 percent of the company while Warner Music held 40 percent. But the partnership turned sour in March when Maverick filed a lawsuit against WMG, claiming the company didn't adequately fund the label. WMG rejected that claim in a counter suit, referring to Maverick's $64.2 million in losses over the last six years. The label had been scheduled to dissolve in December but Maverick's investors would have had to reimburse WMG for $92.5 million in losses, loans and fees in order to buy Warner Music's 40 percent share in the label. Under the new agreement, both sides will drop their lawsuits. WMG will also keep Oseary, who will stay with Maverick as CEO. WMG said Maverick will place greater emphasis on signing and developing artists and will have the ability to draw on the parent company's resources.
Distributors Seek PG-13 Rating for Fahrenheit 9/11
Distributors Lions Gate Films and IFC Films are appealing to the Motion Picture Association of America to lessen its current R rating for Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 to PG-13. Images in the film include a public beheading in Saudi Arabia, Iraqis burned by napalm and a gruesome scene of an Iraqi man dumping a dead baby into a truck bed loaded with bodies. "It is sadly very possible that many 15- and 16-year-olds will be asked and recruited to serve in Iraq in the next couple of years," Moore told the AP. "If they are old enough to be recruited and capable of being in combat and risking their lives, they certainly deserve the right to see what is going on in Iraq." A screening by the MPAA's appeals board has been set for June 22--just three days before the film's US release date.
Judge Refuses To Lower Jackson's Bail
In a ruling released Monday, Santa Barbara County Judge Rodney S. Melville has refused to lower Michael Jackson's $3 million bail in his child molestation case, saying the singer's wealth justified the higher-than-normal bail amount, the AP reports. Melville added that the bail should remain higher than what is typically imposed on defendants facing similar charges to ensure that Jackson appears at future court dates. Jackson's bail was set and uncontested when he was arrested in November, but the singer's new attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr., requested bail be reduced to no more than $435,000 when he took over the case in April. He said there were no legal grounds for setting Jackson's bail higher than normal simply because of his wealth, but prosecutors argued the pop star was likely to flee the country if his bail was reduced.
T-Boz Files for Divorce
T-Boz of the female R&B group TLC has filed for divorce from her husband, rapper Mack 10, saying he committed adultery and threatened to kill her, the AP reports. The 34-year-old singer has also arranged for a temporary restraining order against the rapper, barring him from coming within 100 yards of her, and is seeking full custody of their 3-year-old daughter, Chase Anela. The couple married in August 2000 and is now separated. T-Boz, whose real name is Tionne Tenese Watkins Rolison, said in an affidavit that Mack 10 threatened to kill her several times, beginning in October 2002 and most recently on June 8. Mack 10, whose real name is Dedrick D-Mon Rolison, denied the allegations, saying his wife has made the claims "for the sole purpose of attempting to gain an advantage in these proceedings" and to prevent him from seeing their daughter.
Author Claims Extreme Makeover Was Her Idea
Author Diana Locke filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court late last week claiming a talent agency and a producer stole her idea for what has become the hit TV series Extreme Makeover, Reuters reports. According to the suit, Locke pitched the idea of a show focusing on the emotional and psychological aspects of plastic surgery to a producer friend in August 2001. He then discussed the idea with his agent Sean Perry. But after failing to sell the idea to a cable network, Locke's friend dropped the concept. The suit alleges Perry then presented the idea to producer, Howard Schultz, who sold it to ABC as Extreme Makeover. The suit, which claims breach of confidence, conspiracy and unjust enrichment, seeks damages of at least $10 million.
P. Diddy Hits the Road
Rap mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs will launch the Daddy's House Dance Party world tour this summer, along with a new album on his Bad Boy record label, the AP reports. Combs, who hasn't released an album since 2002's We Invented the Remix, will preview what's in store for fans at a party in Manhattan Thursday for Entertainment Weekly's upcoming "Must List" issue, which hits newsstands Friday. Combs, 34, has been starring as Walter Lee Younger in the Broadway revival of Raisin in the Sun and was recently named menswear designer of the year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America for his Sean John clothing line.
Charo, Flava Flav Join Surreal Life
VH1will air the third season of the former WB reality series The Surreal Life with the likes of Charo, Dave Coulier (Full House), Public Enemy's Flava Flav, New Kids on the Block alum Jordan Knight, Brigitte Nielsen (Red Sonja) and American Idol contenstant Ryan Starr. The series bows Sept. 6.
Role Call: DiCaprio's in Bear Market, Aniston Shoots War, Whitaker Brings a Gun
Leonardo DiCaprio and his production company Appian Way have teamed with Columbia Pictures to produce the biopic The Man Who Loved Grizzlies, about environmentalist Ted Treadwell. Based on Ned Zeman's article published in the May issue of Vanity Fair, the film focuses on Treadwell, a controversial and charismatic figure, the bears' self-appointed goodwill ambassador who looked like a Malibu surfer. Spending months at a time in the wilds of Alaska, he took the anti-poaching cause as his own but had no training beyond his talents as a photographer and naturalist ... Jennifer Aniston is being touted to play famed war photographer Dickey Chapelle in Warner Bros. biopic. Chapelle, a blonde, blue-eyed beauty who covered WWII for Look magazine and Reader's Digest, became a heralded photographer because of her willingness to march to the front lines. She died in Vietnam after tripping a landmine while accompanying Marines on a secret sabotage mission ... Forest Whitaker is set to star in American Gun, an ensemble drama described as "a series of interwoven story lines focusing on how the proliferation of guns in America affects and shapes lives," the filmmakers told the Hollywood Reporter. Donald Sutherland, Linda Cardellini (Scooby-Doo 2) and Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon (Barbershop 2) are in negotiations to join Whitaker, who will also serve as an executive producer.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
Troubled rapper Eminem pleaded no contest Monday to two gun-related charges stemming from an incident last year involving the Insane Clown Posse's road manager.
Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers III, was charged with carrying a concealed firearm and brandishing a weapon during an argument with road manager of the rival band Insane Clown Posse outside a Royal Oak, Mich., stereo store in 2000.
The plead comes less than two weeks after Eminem received two years probation on a separate charge of carrying a concealed weapon during a brawl outside a Detroit-area nightclub. He also allegedly pistol-whipped a man he saw kissing his then wife, Kimberly Mathers. They are now divorcing.
Sentencing was schedule for Tuesday, June 5. He faced up to five years in prison, but he will now receive probation for pleading no contest.
VH1 moving beyond the music
VH1, known for its music videos, seems to be replacing the music with more original programming--comedies and dramas, to be exact.
The cable network has announced plans for a full slate of series, reality shows and feature-length films.
"We tried really hard to make sure that all our new shows are fundamentally about music," Lauren Zalanick, VH1's head of original programming, told The Associated Press.
Among some of the new programs is the drama Pulling the Strings, starring James Brolin as an entertainment mogul on the verge of a nervous breakdown. His wife, Barbra Streisand, will co-produce.
VH1 also plans to develop TV movies about MC Hammer and heavy metal rockers Def Leppard.
Looking for Bond
Little-known Scottish actor Gerald Butler may enjoy a license to kill as and when Pierce Brosnan hangs up his Walther PPK.
Several actors have been considered as the new James Bond, including British pop star Robbie Williams, but Butler may be the one to become the sixth actor to portray 007, as reported by Scotland's Daily Record newspaper.
Series producer Barbara Broccoli would like to cast a Scottish actor. The most famous Bond remains Sean Connery, a Scot.
"Gerard is one of the two people Barbara has appointments with," a source told the paper. "They are meeting to discuss replacing Pierce after his final movie."
Brosnan's contract expires after his fourth installment, which will go into production in January 2002.
Butler, who took up acting after earning a law degree from Glasgow University, was seen in last year's Wes Craven's Dracula 2000.
Braxton goes to the chapel
R&B singer Toni Braxton married her love of four years, Keri Lewis, the keyboardist for the group Mint Condition, on Saturday during a private outdoor ceremony.
Former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young officiated the ceremony, as Braxton, 32, and Lewis, 28, exchanged vows in front of 250 guests at the 60-acre Dean Gardens estate in Atlanta.
Guests included singer Monica, rapper Mack 10, Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas of the R&B group TLC.
The bride wore an ivory satin gown with a notched and beaded bodice, and a beaded train and matching veil designed by Vera Wang. She also wore diamond-crusted gems designed by Stephen Russell, as reported by The Associated Press.
Colombian soap opera saying adios
Wildly popular Colombian soap opera Betty La Fea is winding down after a 1 ½-year run. The show revolves around an accountant, Betty, who wears braces, glasses, has a snorting laugh and facial hair. In a country that prides itself on its beautiful women and beauty contests, the show's success was phenomenal.
After more than 300 episodes, the writers and actors are extremely exhausted and glad to have a break, but fans are worried.
"I'm going to miss it, because it's been a lot of fun," Elkin Tovar, a 35-year-old chauffeur told The Associated Press. "But it will also be a bit of a break, because watching the show so often has become a form of slavery."
The show claimed 80 million viewers worldwide across Latin America and as far away as Hungary and Israel. Betty almost single-handedly rescued the Colombian TV network RCN from financial ruin, even as the country's unemployment is at an all-time low and violence is ripping through the nation.
Robin Hood lives on
USA Network is nearing production on a new reality series, based on super spies, which would bring a modern-day Robin Hood to television.
The series, tentatively called Break-In!, will feature two teams in a race to recover stolen artwork or government secrets and return them to their proper owners. The first to do so wins. The prize is yet to be determined.
The show takes its inspiration from such films as The Pink Panther or Mission: Impossible, during which protagonists execute elaborate plans to retrieve stolen items, Chris Sloan, USA Network's senior VP of reality programming, told Variety.
But the show won't show people how to pull off a crime, he said.
"That's why we're doing the fairly fantastical type of things-we're not breaking into someone's house. You're not going to hear us saying here's how you break in to steal the Oscars."
XFL's painful journey
The fate of the XFL has yet to be determined, but NBC Sports and the World Wrestling Federation are treating the low-rated series as a bad skin blemish they are trying to hide.
The XFL should make it to the 2002 season because "Vince [McMahon, chief of World Wrestling Federation] has the leverage to keep the weekly games on UPN Sunday night and TNN Sunday afternoon," David Carter, a principal in the Los Angeles-based Sports Business Group, told Variety.
The leverage is the Thursday-night WWF Smackdown, which is UPN's highest-rated series by far, and the Monday night Raw Is War on TNN, which is killing the competition on basic cable.
On NBC, the XFL averaged a 3.3 rating, 27% below the network's guarantees to advertisers.
NBC may stay on as an investor, but any idea that the network would switch the XFL Saturday night games to its sister network, CNBC, is just not going to happen.
"CNBC's demographic is the upscale white male executive in his 50s." Carter said. "The only two people in that category who watch XFL games are Vince McMahon and Dick Ebersol," chairman of NBC Sports.
Whatever the series has to do to make it, its going to have to prove it can generate revenues: it lost $40 million during its 2001 season, according to industry estimates.
WGA: Waiting to the last minute
With only nine days left before their contract expires, the Writers Guild of America and the Producers Alliance have yet to reach an agreement. Many insiders are saying the serious negotiations will happen in this final week before the contract expires.
Writers and many others are anxious about a strike because the talks, which resumed April 16, did not extend over the weekend. Companies are preparing to stop taking work from writers beginning next week.
There is a chance that the contract expiration may be extended to coincide with the Screen Actors Guild contract, which expires June 30. Although neither side will comment, other scenarios include the contract being extended only a few days-and only if the negotiations are moving forward in a significant way.
The agreement still boils down to around $100 million over three years, including WGA demands for boosted residuals in cable, video/DVD and foreign TV.
"Dances With Wolves" again
Pacifica Film Development has acquired the motion picture and television rights to Michael Blake's novel Holy Road, his sequel to the 1990 Dances With Wolves. Blake also will pen the screenplay, as he did with Wolves.
Holy Road continues the story of Lt. John Dunbar, now known as Dances With Wolves, who has, after 10 years, become a tribal warrior. When the white man invades once again, abducting his wife and youngest child, he embarks on a daring mission to rescue them.
No word on director or casting, but the novel is scheduled for a Sept. 15 publication. The screenplay should be finished by the end of the summer, depending on the potential strikes.
"Trap" continues on
Those pesky, adorable twins from The Parent Trap are back for more mischief.
Writers Derek Guiley and David Schneiderman will pen the Walt Disney Co.'s straight-to-video sequel to the hit film The Parent Trap, originally released in 1961 and remade in 1998.
This time around, the matchmaking girls have to deal with the perils of high school.