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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Do the Bourne movies make any sense? Enough. The first three films — The Bourne Identity Supremacy and Ultimatum — throw in just enough detail into the covert ops babble and high-speed action that by the end Jason Bourne comes out an emotional character with an evident mission. That's where Bourne Legacy drops the ball. A "sidequel" to the original trilogy Legacy follows super soldier Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) as he runs jumps and shoots his way out of the hands of his government captors. The film is identical to its predecessors; political intrigue chase scenes morally ambiguous CIA agents monitoring their man-on-the-run from a computer-filled HQ — a Bourne movie through and through. But Legacy has to dig deeper to find new ground to cover introducing elements of sci-fi into the equation. The result is surprisingly limp and even more incomprehensible.
Damon's Bourne spent three blockbusters uncovering his past erased by the assassin training program Treadstone. Renner's Alex Cross has a similar do-or-die mission: after Bourne's antics send Washington into a tizzy Cross' own training program Outcome is terminated. Unlike Bourne Cross is enhanced by "chems" (essentially steroid drugs) that keep him alive and kicking ass. When Outcome is ended Cross goes rogue to stay alive and find more pills.
Steeped heavily in the plot lines of the established mythology Bourne Legacy jumps back and forth between Cross and the clean up job of the movie's big bad (Edward Norton) and his elite squad of suits. The movie balances a lot of moving parts but the adventure never feels sprawling or all that exciting. Actress Rachel Weisz vibrant in nearly every role she takes on plays a chemist who is key to Cross' chemical woes. The two are forced into partnership Weisz limited to screaming cowering and sneaking past the occasional airport x-ray machine while her partner aggressively fistfights his way through any hurdle in his path. Renner is equally underserved. Cross is tailored to the actor's strengths — a darker more aggressive character than Damon's Bourne but with one out of every five of the character's lines being "CHEMS!" shouted at the top of his lungs Renner never has the time or the material to develop him.
Writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton Duplicity and the screenwriter of the previous three movies) is a master of dense language but his style choices can't breath life into the 21st century epic speak. In the film's necessary car chase Gilroy mimics the loose camera style of Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass without fully embracing it. The wishy washy approach sucks the life out of large-scale set pieces. The final 30 minutes of Bourne Legacy is a shaky cam naysayer's worst nightmare.
The Bourne Legacy demonstrates potential without ever kicking into high gear. One scene when Gilroy finally slows down and unleashes absolute terror on screen is striking. Unfortunately the moment doesn't involve our hero and its implications never explained. That sums up Legacy; by the film's conclusion it only feels like the first hour has played out. The movie crawls — which would be much more forgivable if the intense banter between its large ensemble carried weight. Instead Legacy packs the thrills of an airport thriller: sporadically entertaining and instantly forgettable.
This Friday, Disney’s Prom hits theaters in hopes of reminding us all of the magic of the big dance. While the film is about many different couples getting ready for the big dance, we find one, central couple who manages to deliver the one glaring, unrealistic teen romcom stereotype we can’t manage to shake (and for the most part, we don’t want to): the sensitive, brooding bad boy.
In Prom, the brooder is none other than Jesse (Thomas McDonell), a motorcycle riding, long-haired, ne’er-do-well sentenced to the Prom committee for missing class. Naturally, he butts heads with blonde-haired do-gooder, Nova (Aimee Teegarden), but it’s not long before the romantic sparks are flying. We girls – and a few boys here and there – are always suckers for the romantic bad boy type; we know it’s nothing new, but we still eat it up. But just how long has this fantasy man been a part of our onscreen vocabulary? A really, really long time. Here are the guys you can blame for today’s Jesses and other stubble-riddled, lovable bad boys.
Jim Stark from Rebel Without A Cause (1955)
Here we have the original bad boy played by the real life poster boy for Hollywood bad boys. James Dean’s Jim Stark is what you’d call a text book example: he’s got trouble at home, he gets in fights with the kids at school, he smokes cigarettes, he rides a motorcycle, he’s got the smolder. Plus, he’s got that whole heart of gold thing going on. It’s no wonder he spawned so many characters of his ilk.
Danny Zuko from Grease (1978)
At least when it comes to Grease, they attempt to tell us what Danny Zuko really is. Sure, “Summer Nights” is fun to sing and all, but you can’t ignore the stark contrast between Danny’s line “We made out under the dock” and Sandy’s version of the story, “We stayed out ‘till 10 o’clock.” Danny’s a dog, just like every other guy, but of course, somewhere deep down inside he really cares about Sandy and ends up wearing the lame varsity sweater. Now that’s love.
John Bender from The Breakfast Club (1985)
We could probably make our entire list from just John Hughes movies, but we’ll stick with the quintessential brooding young man, John Bender. He owes his entire existence to James Dean. He’s essentially the 1980s version; he’s got a bad home life, he’s a regular in detention, and he’s got a complete disregard for others until he wants to kiss Molly Ringwald.
Cry-Baby from Cry-Baby (1990)
Alright, so this John Waters character is really aiming to poke fun at the stereotypical bad boy, and boy does he hit the nail on the head. Greasy hair: check. Motorcycle: check. Secret talent: check. Leather jacket: check. Irresistible smolder: check. Plus, and here’s the clincher: he’s got that single, sensitive tear thing going on. Sensitive and dangerous? Sigh.
Patrick Verona from 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Well, in Patrick’s case, the tales of his bad boy lifestyle are greatly exaggerated, but he still counts. He’s just bad enough to keep up with Kat’s shrew-like tendencies (because the movie is based on The Taming of the Shrew), you know the typical underage drinker and occasional smoker who’s just corrupt enough to date a girl for money, but sweet enough to risk detention to serenade her once he falls in love with her.
Landon Carter from A Walk to Remember (2002)
This is a tough one because – spoiler – Mandy Moore’s character, Jamie, is terminally ill. But the part of the story we need to focus on is the fact that Landon, who spent most of his days wreaking havoc and getting drunk in the small North Carolina town where the story takes place, gets forced into performing in the school play with Jamie where he’s reformed through the power of the theater and falls madly in love with her. It’s a sweet, sad story, but it’s still an important part of the bad boy fabric.
Edward Cullen from Twilight (2008)
I didn’t want to include this sparkly vampire, but I have to admit he belongs on here. He’s bad because he’s a freaking vampire who can’t get too frisky because he might bite his lady love (hello, GIANT metaphor). He also rides a motorcycle. And he broods…a lot.