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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Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Treading water at the very surface of RoboCop, there is an idea. A dense concept, ready and willing to provide no dearth of dissection for any eager student of philosophy, psychology, political science, physics — hell, any of the Ps. To simplify the idea on hand: What separates man from machine? It's a question that is not just teased by the basic premise of José Padilha's remake of the 1987 sci-fi staple, but asked outright by many of its main characters. And then never really worried about again.
We have principal parties on both sides of the ethical quandary that would place the security of our crime-ridden cities in the hands of automatons. Samuel L. Jackson plays a spitfire Bill O'Reilly who wonders why America hasn't lined its streets with high-efficiency officer droids. Zach Grenier, as a moralistic senator, gobbles his way through an opposition to the Pro-boCop movement. We hear lecture after lecture from pundits, politicians, business moguls (a money-hungry Michael Keaton heads the nefarious OmniCorp...) and scientists (...while his top doc Gary Oldman questions the nature of his assignments while poking at patients' brains and spouting diatribes about "free will"), all working their hardest to lay thematic groundwork. Each character insists that we're watching a movie about the distinction between human and artificial intelligence. That even with an active brain, no robot can understand what it means to have a heart. But when Prof. Oldman tempers his hysterical squawking and Samuel L. Hannity rolls his closing credits, we don't see these ideas taking life.
In earnest, the struggle of rehabilitated police officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) — nearly killed in the line of duty and turned thereafter into OmniCorp's prototype RoboCop — doesn't seem to enlist any of the questions that his aggravated peers have been asking. Murphy is transformed not just physically, but mentally — robbed of his decision-making ability and depleted of emotional brain chemicals — effectively losing himself in the process. But the journey we see take hold of Murphy is not one to reclaim his soul, although the movie touts it as such. It's really just one to become a better robot.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Meanwhile, RoboCop lays down its motives, and hard: Murphy's wife and son (Abbie Cornish and a puckish young John Paul Ruttan) lament the loss of Alex, condemning his dehumanization at the hands of Raymond Sellars' (Keaton) capitalistic experiments, and sobbing out some torrential pathos so you know just how deep this company is digging. Weaselly stooges (Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle, and Jackie Earl Haley) line the OmniCorp roster with comical wickedness. Overseas, killer combat bots take down peaceful villages, unable to work empathetic judgment into their decision to destroy all deemed as "threats." And at the top, figures of power and money like Sellars and Pat Novak (Jackson) speak the loudest and harshest, literally justifying their agenda with a call for all naysayers to "stop whining." Clearly, RoboCop has something to say.
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And when it's devoted to its outrage, RoboCop is terrifically charming. The buzzing political world is just a tiny step closer to ridiculous than our own; the pitch meetings at OmniCorp are fun enough to provoke a ditching of all the material outside of the company walls. And one particular reference to The Wizard of Oz shows that the movie isn't above having fun with its admittedly silly premise. But it loses its magic when it steps away from goofy gimmicks and satirical monologues and heads back into the story. We don't see enough of Murphy grappling with the complicated balance between his conflicting organic and synthetic selves. In fact, we don't see enough "story" in Murphy at all. First, he's a dad and a cop. Then, he's a RoboCop. But can he also be a RoboDad? With all of its ranting and raving about the question, the film doesn't seem to concerned with actually figuring out the answer.
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That George Lucas sure is a Renaissance man. He's a filmmaker, studio mogul, lightsaber duellist, car enthusiast, coiner of "Wizard!" and other awesome phrases, and now an art museum founder. Or he hopes to be, anyway.
Lucas is among 16 contenders to develop part of San Francisco's federally-managed Presidio park. His $300 million proposal? To build the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, which will house his substantial art collection, including a vast array of paintings by fantasist Maxfield Parrish and that master of homespun Americana, Norman Rockwell. When considering the works of art he would be donating, the gift to the city of San Francisco would likely top $1 billion. However, he'll have to out-bid other prominent contenders, including the backers of a proposed museum about the New Deal, a tourist center for the Golden Gate Bridge, an institute for urban studies, and an observatory.
RELATED: J.J. Abrams Didn’t Want ‘Star Wars’ and More About ‘Episode VII’
This isn't Lucas' first foray into the art world. In 2010, Lucas Licensing partnered with Abrams Books to publish Star Wars Art: Visions, a collection of paintings inspired by the saga but rendered by luminaries of fine art. Certainly, Star Wars' conceptual artists like Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston contributed an astonishing amount to the look of the Lucasverse, as have the various artists have drawn panels for Star Wars comics and graphic novels. But Visions compiled art from painters who hadn't really been involved in Star Wars before, like Moebius, Daniel Greene, and Donato Giancola. To honor Lucas' bid to build an art museum we've compiled eight of the very best of these fine art renderings of Star Wars. Check out what happens when that Galaxy Far, Far Away goes high-brow:
GALLERY: 8 Works of Museum-Caliber 'Star Wars' Fine Art
What do you think? Is Lucas ready to take the art world by storm?
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Abrams Books]
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Have you ever written something really long like a term paper or a business proposal or a reality television program recap and you forget to save it and your computer goes on the fritz and you lose the whole thing and have to start over again from the beginning? That always sucks. Writing it the second time is never as good or as interesting as the first time. That's what I felt when we started the most recent episode of Big Brother, which rehashed the fast-forward episode and the HoH competition, nominations, veto, and voting. We already know what happened! It just couldn't be as good. Boy, was I wrong!
First we have Frank cussing out everyone because they just kicked out his man lover Boogie. He's going after Ian, asking how Boogie didn't buy his loyalty with the $3,000 he gave Ian when he won a coachs' competition. If you remember, Frank, the only reason Ian even got the money was because you told Boogie to give it to Ian and that other girl on your team, so it's not like Boogie even wanted to give it to Ian in the first place.
Then Ian goes and wins HoH. He says he was trying to throw it so he wouldn't have to make any decisions and make Frank mad at him by kicking him out. Then he's all frazzled and taking everyone in to the ball machine room one at a time. He's all serious with Britney and Dan. "Shane and Joe or Frank and Ashley?" he shouts, knowing that the way to get Frank out is to backdoor him, not to give him a chance to play Veto. Britney doesn't think that is wise. Then he takes Frank in the room and they have an intense confrontation. Then the same with Shane and Danielle. Then it's Ashley turn. "Congratulations," she says. "I don't really have anything to say." God, I love Ashley. Why did they have to kick this girl out? Couldn't they just keep her around to not play the game and say stupid things and keep us all amused?
Then Frank wins Veto and takes himself off the block and Ashley's portrait goes grey (which is the one shade that this professional spray tan technician has never actually been). Ian is pissed at Britney for making him put up Frank instead of backdooring him. And he should be, since that probably would have been a smarter move. To Britney's credit, she tries to make it better when a rampaging Frank tells Ian that he's a bad person for voting out blond bombshells Boogs and Ashley. She's about to shed tears for poor Ian while he's roaming around the house like a junkie looking for a $20 bill that he dreamed was somewhere in his house but doesn't actually exist. That's the funny thing is that Ian does feel like a bad person. He says he's going to hell for getting people voted out. Um, sorry, Ian, but did you think you were going to go on this show and Julie Chen was going to say, "The twist this year is that you all get to live in the house all summer and no one is voted out. You're all going to heaven!"
Frank doesn't waste a second and pulls Shane and Danielle into a room to talk strategy. This was the best scene all night, because it was something out of an existential French drama. There's Frank talking about how life isn't fair. Shane doesn't know what to think because Britney isn't there to tell him. He's just an empty cypher trying to figure life out while not fully engaging in it. Then there's Danielle, who is crying for no apparent reason whatsoever. She's just stricken by grief, the great emotional weight of taking breath after breath after breath and trying to make it through the day. Then there's Britney, who is saying not to be mean to the common man (Ian) because he can't handle it and doesn't know what he did. If Sartre ever stooped so low as to imagine what reality television would be like, this is exactly it.
Frank is trying to scare people into thinking about what is going to happen if he wins HoH, which he is going to because the producers love him so much that they have saved him from the block multiple times in order to continue to make the season more exciting. Frank tells Shane that he'll be up on the block if Shane and Britney don't make a deal with him. Britney goes to Frank alone (because Shane, at this point, is only good for winning challenges and then carrying out Britney's orders like her prematurely balding pool boy) and makes a deal that she will help him get Dan out of the house and work with him as far as she can.
Two things. First, Frank is unnaturally obsessed with getting Dan out of the house. Sure, he's gunning for Frank, but so is everyone in the house right now. He's too blind to see who the real danger is. It's not Dan, who won't ever win an HoH. It's not Ian, who got rid of Boogie. It's not Danielle, who spends all her time applying mascara so she can cry and let it run down her cheeks. It's not pink tank top scion Shane, the competition king. It's not even diary room shouter Joe or that other thing whose name I can't really remember that is somehow still in the house. It is Britney. That is the other thing: Britney is running this game right now. Not only does she control Shane like a sock puppet, she also can sway the rest of the Quack Pack as easy as you can order pancakes at Denny's (which you can do 24 hours a day as long as you have a Denny's, $4.95, and no gluten allergy). Now she has a deal with Frank too. She is totally in charge of everything that is happening.
This makes me really happy because I am a huge Britney fan. "Slave 4 U" is one of my all time favorite jams. I also want Britney to win this game. The last time she played, she let another alliance take over the house without including her and they kicked her out when they didn't need her anymore. She's not making the same mistake twice, and she is running her entire alliance and Frank! This is the girl to watch out for.
Because the producers love Frank so much, they brought out their favorite "there's an outsider that we love" HoH challenge. Everyone uses an elaborate pulley machine to hoist a ball to the top and is ranked on their performance. Then the people who were the worst at the machine square off against each other and the victor takes on the person who did better than them until the last person remaining is the HoH. This challenge is rigged so that the person who comes in last ends up running the whole game. (If I remember correctly, this kept Daniele Donato in the game last time she played, but it might have been another player with no friends.) The people who are in the first round have to use this crazy machine so many times to get to the top that they get to practice each time and get better and better. It allows the underdog to come from behind and take the prize. Getting a low seat in this challenge is actually a strategic benefit. Korean Olypmic badminton players would rule at this challenge.
Yes, Frank wins and he's going to nominate Dan and Danielle. That makes sense if he really wants Dan out. Then he goes and opens Pandora's Box. Now, I'm not saying BB shouldn't have Pandora's Box, but I think they should stop pretending like the HoH isn't going to open it. That is like putting a bag of white powder in front of Lindsay Lohan and expecting it to be there when you get back. No, she'll be in the bathroom stall faster than you can say, Herbie the Love Bug 2: Fully Unloaded.
Frank opens it and wins some money and is locked inside Pandora's Box for an hour. Meanwhile the rest of the house guests find out that there's another veto in the ball machine in the arcade and they just need quarters to operate it. Then balls start falling from heaven (which is just what happens every night at a gay strip club) with quarters in them and everyone rushes to win the Veto. Dan is kind of a jerk about it and keeps trying to get people to let him win. They're annoyed, and so am I. Dan, you're not good when you're being a pain in the ass. Stick to your whole inspirational speeches and Successories posters schtick.
Eventually Ian wins the veto. Frank is threatening to put Ian up just so he has to use the veto on himself and not on someone else, which is probably the smartest thing Frank cold do at this point. However, Britney, who, like the Beyoncé song says, is running this mother, convinces Frank not to do that. She tells Ian that if he uses it on Dan, then she will go up. Britney's brilliant plan is for Frank to put up Dan and Danielle (which he eventually does) and for her or Shane to win the regular Power of Veto. Then if Ian takes down Dan and Shane takes down Danielle (because, honestly, Britney has the same chance of winning a competition as you do leaving Lindsay with your eight ball), then all four of them will be safe. Even if Frank puts up Britney, he'll also have to nominated either Joe or that other bag of hair that still fills up one of the beds in the house and that person will be the one to go home.
That's kind of a genius plan, and I really hope it works out. However, since it would subvert what Frank is planning, the producers will never allow it to happen. The Veto Competition on Wednesday is probably going to be a challenge where you have to rub balloons against your hair to get enough status electricity to shock Julie Chen into showing an emotion. Of course those with curly red mop on their head will have an advantage in that competition. Yes, Britney is working to win this whole thing, but Frank seems like he's a sure thing at this point.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo credit: CBS]
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The company behind the raunchy Girls Gone Wild franchise has been fined $1.6 million after releasing DVDs featuring underage girls.
Mantra Films Inc., who offer T-shirts in exchange for breast-bearing on film, was found guilty of preying on two drunken 17-year-olds during spring break in 2003.
According to the New York Daily News, founder Joe Francis was forced by judge Richard Smoak to read aloud one of the plaintiffs’ statements in the Panama City, Florida, court. In the testimony she detailed her "emotional torment" after appearing in the video.
Francis was sentenced to community service because Smoak did not believe the fine was significant enough, as it represents only 12 percent of Mantra's 2005 profits.
Smoak said, "It does not take a very brave man to go out and corner a girl in the middle of spring break who had four drinks."
Francis claimed the two girls had lied about their ages.
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