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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In a recent interview about the officially in-the-works sequel to Anchorman, the movie's writer/director, Adam McKay, served up a pair of hints about what we can expect in the follow-up to the beloved 2004 comedy. Of course, he's a teensy-weensy bit of a jokester whose tongue rarely leaves his cheek, so let's not get in full-on decipher mode just yet.
Here were his exact words when asked specifically about Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) in Anchorman 2: "I don’t want to give away too much, but I’ll just give a couple pieces of ideas that we’ve kicked around. Keep in mind we’re still writing the story, but I’ll say one phrase for you: custody battle. I’ll give you that. I’ll give you one other one: bowling for dollars."
So that's what we have to go on right now. If he was serious, it could mean anything from a nasty split between Ron and Veronica (Christina Applegate) to something silly and a little more abstract like, say, Brick (Steve Carell) and Brian (Paul Rudd) duking it out over a Peabody Award they bought on eBay five years ago. Either way, we're excited — and hopeful that there will also be a ton of "bowling for dollars." The other takeaway from the interview, though, is that it might be some time before we Burgundites get our fix, as McKay admitted that the story is still being written, and although Paramount is no doubt eager to get this on the big screen ASAP, the studio and talent are likely to disagree along the way.
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There were very few concretely good movies this year (I’m pretty sure The Situation has written more books than there are worthwhile flicks from 2010). Whenever one like Inception or Black Swan or Toy Story 3 came out and totally blew our minds, we were so thankful because it meant we didn't have to keep sucking the marrow out of mediocre movies in hope of getting one drop of enjoyable cinema. Finally there was somewhere we could turn for definitive and dependable entertainment! However, the supreme goodness of movies like Inception and Toy Story 3 cast a shadow over the majority of this year's releases and the coming of the new year and award season means some unlucky films will be forgotten. Here are the top ten movies we're most likely to forget ever existed once the clock strikes 12 on New Year's Eve and we're making out with a doorman.
A leap year happens only once every four years and a movie about a leap year hardly ever happens, so it’s no wonder this “romantic comedy” starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode isn’t in the forefront of your mind. Also, it was released way back on January 8th, so it’s had a lot of time to collect dust on the shelf with Peabody, whose eyes are vacant of your love. AND ALSO, Leap Year was about a woman who comes across as utterly unlikable based on how she perpetuates the belief that women can’t be the ones to propose marriage over the course of her quest to prove otherwise. In other words, a movie that seeks to redefine marital traditions, but ends up reinforcing them in the end? In 2010, the year where people are proposing to their spouses via viral videos? Unbelievable.
The Killer Inside Me
Not to be confused with the good movie, I Know Who Killed Me! TKIM starred Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba and was about the old wives tale of a Texas deputy sheriff who sleeps with a prostitute and her allure turns someone into a serial killer. If that plot alone doesn’t make it a nondescript movie, perhaps knowing that critics were careful enough to note the poor musical score will solidify things. At least things ended well for Affleck, who managed to follow this pointless flick with one of the most hated and deception-based movies of the year!
The Wolfman was one of, if not the only movie this year that dealt with werewolves. That alone should mean we’d be most likely to remember when Benicio Del Toro played a man who was bitten by a werewolf when he went back to his hometown in search of his brother’s killer. But because Benicio looks like a werewolf when he’s walking to the dry cleaners, this films place in this year’s cinema roundup seems totally hazy. Not even the presence of Emily Blunt and Anthony Hopkins made this movie stand out, which again is quite telling since it was the only movie this year about the guys on our flannel sheets!
Cop Out had Bruce Willis playing a police officer who was planning to pay for his daughter’s wedding by selling a very expensive and collectible baseball card, but when it is suddenly stolen he enlists the help of his cop friend and “memorabilia-obsessed gangster,” played by Tracy Morgan, to help him retrieve it. Despite featuring a widely favored and totally under-cast Morgan, the method of getting us to care about a baseball card by making it worth the price of an innocent girl's dream wedding was cheap and transparent and therefore deemed unworthy of our neurons by our neurons.
Ah yes, Legion: the movie that was supposed to encourage us to consider how fragile the human race is, despite appearing in theaters during a period in history when we're so resourceful that we're downloading apps on our iPhones to tell us which restaurants have bathrooms that aren’t reserved just for patrons. In Legion, God loses faith in humanity and sends a bunch of angels to kick-start the Apocalypse. Humanity is saved only by Paul Bettany (which isn’t entirely unbelievable in real life either), when random strangers are trapped in a diner with him and he restores their good-nature.
Greenberg was a Noah Baumbach film starring Ben Stiller, who played a New Yorker that moved to Los Angeles to do the most annoying thing to watch someone do onscreen: GET THEIR SHIT TOGETHER. While house sitting for his brother, Greenberg starts to feel something for his brother’s assistant, which while sweet does not make his existence (no matter how fictionalized) on the planet any harder to resent.
Ryan Reynolds played Jeff Daniels’ imaginary superhero friend and Emma Stone played some weird teenage girl that was friends with Daniels somewhere in Long Island. I swear I’m not leaving anything out. Except Lisa Kudrow.
In Repo Men, Jude Law and Forest Whitaker played members of “The Union” that repossess the highly efficient mechanical organs from the unwell people who’ve failed to make the necessary payments on them. After Law’s (or former soldier Remy) heart fails on the job, he receives one of “The Union’s” organs but is naturally unable to pay for it. He then finds himself fighting his ex-partner, who has been assigned to reclaim the device inside him, to keep the organ (and his life). Why “The Union” was smart enough to have people to repossess the organs from those who couldn’t make the payments but dumb enough to loan the organs out to people that couldn’t pay for them was beyond all of us.
This was the movie that resulted in Joan Jett and Cherie Currie briefly emerging from their igloos of gold records to defend Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning as legitimate actresses. It made you buy a guitar that you're currently trying to figure out who to give to for Christmas.
You either loved or hated MacGruber, but chances are you forgot it was made the second Joseph Gordon-Levitt explained what a "kick" was in Inception. It was based on the series of SNL sketches that were also headed by Will Forte (which were actually quite hilarious) and was excellent in that it juxtaposed serious actors like Val Kilmer and Ryan Phillippe opposite noted comedians and SNL alumni. The worst and saddest thing about this movie was that it came in a year where we were basically so starving for good movies that when something revolutionary came along (like Inception), this flick was instantaneously pushed to the side way before it should have been.
Salt the propulsive new thriller from Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger Patriot Games) has been dubbed “Bourne with boobs ” but that label isn’t entirely accurate. In the role of Evelyn Salt a CIA staffer hunted by her own agency after a Russian defector fingers her in a plot to murder Russia’s president Angelina Jolie keeps her two most potent weapons holstered hidden under pantsuits and trenchcoats and the various other components of a super-spy wardrobe that proudly emphasizes function over flash.
But flash is one thing Salt never lacks for. Its breathless cat-and-mouse game hits full-throttle almost from the outset when a former KGB officer named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) stumbles into a CIA interrogation room and begins spilling details of a vast conspiracy. Back in the ‘70s hardline elements of the Soviet regime launched an ambitious new front in the Cold War flooding the western world with orphans trained to infiltrate the security complexes of their adopted homelands and wait patiently — decades if necessary — for the order to initiate a series of assassinations intended to trigger a devastating nuclear clash between the superpowers from which the treacherous Reds would emerge triumphant.
The Soviet Union may have long ago collapsed (or did it? Hmmm...) but its army of brainwashed killer orphan spies remains in place and if this crazy Orlov fellow is to be believed they stand poised to reignite the Cold War. It’s a preposterous — even idiotic — scheme but no more so than any of our government’s various harebrained proposals to kill Castro back in the ‘60s. As such the CIA treats it with grave seriousness even the part that that pegs Salt who just happens to be a Russian-born orphan herself as a key player in the conspiracy.
Salt bristles at the accusation but suspecting a set-up she opts to flee rather than face interrogation from her bosses Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). A former field agent she’s been confined to a desk job since a clandestine operation in North Korea went south leaving her with a nasty shiner and a rather unremarkable German boyfriend (now her unremarkable German husband). She’s clearly kept up her training during while cubicle-bound however and in a blaze of resourceful thinking and devastating Parkour Fu she fends off a dozen or so agents of questionable competence and takes to the streets where she sets about to clear her name and unravel the Commie orphan conspiracy before the authorities can catch up with her. That is if she isn’t a part of the conspiracy.
The premise which aims to resurrect Cold War tensions and graft them onto a modern-day spy thriller is absurdly clever — and cleverly absurd. But Kurt Wimmer’s screenplay isn’t satisfied with the merely clever and absurd — it must be mind-blowing. Salt is one of those thrillers that ladles out its backstory slowly and in tiny portions every once in a while dropping a revelatory bombshell that effectively blows the lid off everything that happened beforehand. No one is who they seem and every action every gesture no matter how seemingly trivial is imbued with some kind of grand significance. The effect of piling on one insane twist after another has the effect of gradually diluting the narrative. When anything is possible nothing really matters.
But spy thrillers by definition trade in the preposterous and the principal function of the summer blockbuster is to entertain. In that regard Salt more than fulfills its charge. Noyce wisely keeps the story moving at pace that allows little time for asking uncomfortable questions or poking holes in the film’s frail plot. And he has an able partner in the infinitely versatile Jolie who having already exhibited formidable action-hero chops in Wanted and the Tomb Raider films proves remarkably adept at the spy game as well.
It’s well-known that Jolie wasn’t the first choice to star in Salt joining the project only after Tom Cruise dropped out citing the story’s growing similarities to the Mission: Impossible films. But she’s more than just a capable replacement; she’s a welcome upgrade over Cruise not least because she’s over a decade younger (and a few inches taller) than her predecessor. Should Brad Bird require a pinch-hitter for Ethan Hunt he knows where to look.
Nickelodeon will go ahead with its scheduled telecast for children about same-sex parents Tuesday night despite 100,000 e-mails and phone calls in protest of the show, The Associated Press reports. In fact, the network received so many e-mails that it had to set up a separate address to avert a computer crash.
Nick News Special Edition: My Family Is Different, a half-hour discussion produced by Linda Ellerbee, is being targeted by the Washington-based Traditional Values Coalition, which believes Nickelodeon is actively promoting the normalization of homosexuality. Ellerbee, who won a Peabody Award for a Nickelodeon special explaining the Monica Lewinsky scandal for children, maintains the show is about tolerance, not sex. The program, which also features gay parent Rosie O'Donnell, airs commercial-free tonight at 9 p.m. EDT.
Newlyweds Paul McCartney and Heather Mills arrived in the tropical Seychelles islands this week following their Irish wedding, Reuters reports. Although the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation would not divulge the couple's exact whereabouts, locals say the McCartneys are vacationing on the privately run, paparazzi-free Fregate Island.
Actress Tea Leoni and husband David Duchovny have a new 7-pound, 10-ounce baby boy, the AP reports. It's the second child for Leoni, 36, and Duchovny, 41, who were married in 1997. They have a 3-year-old daughter named Madelaine West Duchovny.
A Long Island newspaper has hired Amy Fisher to write a biweekly column, the AP reports. Fisher's first column will appear in the July 3 issue of The New Island Ear. Otherwise known as the Long Island Lolita, Fisher, now 28, made headlines in 1992 after she shot and wounded the wife of auto mechanic Joey Buttafuoco, with whom she was having an affair.
World Wrestling Entertainment star Dwayne Johnson, also known as The Rock, is in talks to play the famous Hawaiian warrior-king Kamehameha in an upcoming film for Columbia Pictures. The movie would be the first feature film based on Hawaii's most famous king, who ruled the islands from 1795 to 1819, the AP reports.
NBC is producing a new comedy about six single friends, targeted for a potential midseason launch, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Coupling, a comedy based on a British series of the same name, is being referred to by the network as Friends with sex. It focuses on a group of thirtysomethings looking to get involved or who are formerly involved with one another.
Captain Kirk's command chair from the original Star Trek series is being sold at auction in Los Angeles on June 27, Wired.com reports. Fans can place bids for the chair, first used by Jeffrey Hunter as the early Captain Christopher Pike, through eBay. The gray plywood chair with a Naugahyde-covered seat, wooden armrests and plastic control buttons comes with an authentication letter and is valued somewhere between $100,000 and $150,000.
Plans for a Grateful Dead reunion concert are alive and kicking. Clear Channel Entertainment is appealing a decision by a Walworth County highway committee to deny it a permit. Clear Channel Entertainment, which is promoting Terrapin Station--A Grateful Dead Family Reunion at its East Troy, Wis., music theater, was denied a permit for the show earlier this month because of concerns that the county's 80 sheriff deputies could not handle the expected draw of some 200,000 fans. An appeals hearing is set for June 27.