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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Miley Cyrus and Chris Brown have been named and shamed as the worst celebrity role models for kids, according to a new survey. Former Hannah Montana star Cyrus, who got engaged at 19, topped the female version of the CouponCodes4u.com poll, earning 68 per cent of parents' votes after moving away from her squeaky-clean image, narrowly edging out embattled Lindsay Lohan, who is currently in court-ordered rehab, by three per cent.
Reality TV star and new mum Kim Kardashian came in third place, while Amanda Bynes and former Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham rounded out the top five.
Meanwhile, Brown was unveiled as mum and dads' most unpopular male pick, taking 71 per cent of the vote following his infamous 2009 assault of then-girlfriend Rihanna.
Kardashian's boyfriend, rapper Kanye West, was second with 67 per cent and teen superstar Justin Bieber took third place, thanks to his recent hard partying and allegations of reckless driving. Lil Wayne and Charlie Sheen complete the men's countdown at four and five, respectively.
David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
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.
S2E10: So, Monday night on The Voice, a bunch of people sang, and most of them were merely okay. On Tuesday, Carsonbot informs us, six of those people will writhe in exquisite agony onstage for our viewing pleasure, and four will fall victim to the cruelty of the American populace and/or iTunes sales. “Fail!” the texts and Facebook votes will roar, and the performers will weep, weep to be so alone even amidst the massive crowds that, mere weeks ago, were crying their names in ecstasy.
Also, if the TV Gods are just, Purrfect will triumphantly return to our screens.
Onwards, onwards! Down into the bowels of the Hell that is Live Television!
First, in What Are the Coaches Wearing? News: Adam looks like he’s late for Wimbledon. Cee Lo is no longer channeling the Ghost of James Brown. Blake is... Blake. And Christina is apparently out to punish all of us for our howls of “Oompa Loompa!” and “Blonde Snooki!” earlier this season by looking as good as possible.
Carsonbot asks Blake and Christina that vague question that no one really understands the point of, which is basically, “How do you feel about this tough situation?” Blake doesn’t think any of his team should go home — “It’s not tough, it’s sucky” — and Christina thinks of her team as family.
Apropos of nothing, Gym Class Heroes and Neon Hitch perform “Ass Back Home” for us. Travie McCoy is wearing what looks like overly elaborate crown molding, and we barely even see Team Adam until the end. That’s about the depth of my analysis on this one, sorry.
Carsonbot then shepherds us into the pre-taped segment on Team Blake. Blake took his team to a country radio station somewhere in the sprawl of LA, where he informs them that nothing can compare to the power of radio. Is that really still the case, or am I just out of the loop because I can’t afford a car? He tells an endearing story from his first days as a Big Time Country Musician, craning his neck at the cars next to him at stoplights to see if they were listening to his music. And April 5 in LA, he’s going to host an acoustic concert with his whole team, so if you’re in LA, go check that out, I guess. It does seem like Blake is trying to teach them the value of good friends in business, and also that music is, you know, a business. That’s nice.
Back in Liveland, Team Blake shivers and twitches and generally looks as though it wishes it were literally anywhere else right now. If I were an emotional succubus, I imagine I could feed off the recording of this show for a lifetime, the misery of everyone on the stage is so palpable.
After approximately one geologic age of tension, Carsonbot reveals America has given Erin Willett, Jermaine Paul, and RaeLynne a reprieve. The Victors are all teary and huggy; Jordis is like, “God, again?” Now she, Charlotte Sometimes, and Naia Kete will have to convince Blake to save one of them... with a song, you degenerates.
In another pre-recorded bit, we see Christina took her team to meet Jay Leno, and I laugh harder than I have laughed at anything Jay Leno has ever said. I understand synergy, and a trip to Fallon in New York would probably have been inconvenient, but talk about the wrong demographic for (relatively) young performers trying to make it big. Jay makes the usual car-collector jokes and everyone politely titters. Also: “You don’t want to try too hard to be funny,” Christina says, lobbing me a nice big softball that I’m going to ignore for your sakes.
Christina offers one last piece of advice to her team: Listen. To the howls of America, clamoring for blood and humiliation? Actually, these guys look a little less like they’re going to vomit everywhere than Team Blake did, I’ll give them that.
America chooses to spare Jesse Campbell, Lindsey Pavao, and Chris Mann, placing Ashley De La Rosa, Sera Hill, and Moses Stone on the altar, Abraham’s scythe poised over their heads, where it’ll stay for the next half hour or so, because we have to get through the Culling of Team Blake first.
Our Last Chance Performances from Team Blake:
Naia performs “If I Were a Boy,” which caters a little more to her range and style than Adele. She does really well, though some of those tics are back. Blake is sad she didn’t do reggae, but she bleats that that wasn’t an option.
Charlotte does The Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris.” I love this song unabashedly, so maybe that’s the reason that I don’t find her rendition particularly moving, and it starts a bit flat. Her emotion in the chorus serves her well, but it doesn’t feel like quite enough to save her.
Especially because Jordis goes with “Wild Horses,” and she sounds so much like The Sundays, and the ending of Buffy’s “The Prom” episode pops into my mind, and my living room is all of a sudden just covered in dust and there’s something in my eye. AHEM. She pretty much nails it.
Because these three haven’t suffered enough, we have to ask the other three coaches whom they would save from the Wrath of the American Public. Christina was feeling so emotional, she can’t choose! This does not compute with Carsonbot, who forces her to name someone: Jordis. Cee Lo and Adam are also Team Jordis, because, obviously. It’s so obvious, in fact, that Blake mercifully keeps his hemming and hawing to a couple courtesies before rescuing Jordis from the jaws of a second defeat and feeding Charlotte and Naia to the lions of post-loss depression.
And for Team Christina’s “Lose Yourself” moments:
Ashley rocks the hell out of “Paris (Ooh La La).” Man, I wish I had had that level of confidence at 17. Again, she genuinely looks like she’s having a blast, and manages to walk the line between “cutely awesome” and “trying way too hard.”
Sera performs “Vision of Love.” It’s not that she doesn’t have stage presence, and it’s not that she can’t sing, because she certainly can, but if you’re going to beat Ashley stomping around and kicking the stage’s ass, you need to do something more than just sing well.
Moses goes with “Break Even/Falling to Pieces.” Ah, there’s that voice we keep hearing about. He’s got the crowd worked up — Adam was right when he said the kid knows how to entertain, even if it’s not quite as dynamic a performance as usual.
And now it’s time to put these poor children out of their immediate misery, in one way or another, but not before milking the coaches’ appearances for all they’re worth: Cee Lo would save Sera. Adam babbles for a life-age of Middle Earth before picking Ashley. Blake is also on Ashley’s side. And Christina Herself? Ashley!
While Carsonbot short-circuits on live TV, stumbling through nonsense like “Oh, Blake’s getting onstage 001011101000010101” and exhorting us to stay tuned for Fashion Star, which is definitely a television show NBC wants you to acknowledge exists, I’ll note that we’ll be back next week, Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel, but with Teams Adam and Cee Lo. Until then, continue to pray for the Return of the Prodigal Cat.
We previously caught The Raid: Redemption at this year's Sundance Film Festival. You can watch our video blog here
After experiencing The Raid: Redemption the definition of modern action movies is up for debate. Suddenly classifying blockbusters that routinely fill our summers—big superhero clobberfests end-of-the-world scenarios and other spectacles of epic proportions—feels wrong. Sure they have action—but nothing on par with what director Gareth Evans (the Wales-born man behind Merantau) in his martial arts extravaganza choreographed with unimaginable precision and shot with just as much finesse. The Raid squares its fights into a compact apartment high-rise forcing the fisticuffs to be intimate and brutal. It is ballet with bloodshed more jaw-dropping than any large-scale battle.
The Indonesian-language film follows Rama (Iko Uwais) a rookie S.W.A.T. team member recruited for an infiltration mission against one of Jakarta's deadliest mobsters Tama Riyadi. Tama resides at the top of a dilapidated high rise home to a few tenants and a boatload of mercenaries ready to protect their head honcho. When Rama and his squad arrive to take out Tama they're quickly discovered flipping their mission from attack to survival.
Like its spiritual predecessor Die Hard The Raid peppers its scenario with familiarities that keep us afloat during its non-stop action: Rama's a noble guy who stands up for what's right; Tama shoots the thugs who wrong him through the forehead; the S.W.A.T. crew have just enough personality so that we care when some of them fall to hands of Tama's goons; and the script twists and turns along the road aways traveled by. The Raid operates like a video game Rama traveling upward crushing baddie after baddie as he passes each level eventually confronting the final boss.
The concept wouldn't work without the action to match but Evans' fight scenes (designed by Uwais co-star Yayan Ruhian) are sculpted of pure adrenaline—and the ride doesn't stop until The Raid's final minutes (when exhaling is necessary for physical safety). Rama slaps punches kicks twists and wrestles his opponents occasionally picking up a broken shard of door or a discarded pistol (loaded or unloaded doesn't matter) to aid in his mano a mano battle. The movie doesn't skimp on blood Evans embracing the numerous moments where bad guys are thrown viciously down the shabby building's unkept corridors into sharp objects. Audience gasps and exclamations are The Raid's fuel and like Rama's own ascension the film continues to top itself fight after fight after fight after fight.
With blood continually pumping through its veins The Raid becomes a tad tiresome by the hour and a half mark (the film runs 101 minutes) but the artistry behind the film Evans' evocative camera work (that's almost comparable to Wim Wenders' experimental dance film Pina) the electronic score from composer Joe Trapenese (Tron Legacy) and Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and Uwais physically-inspiring star turn help the movie redefine action. There's a reason Sony snatched the movie up so quickly at the Toronto Film Festival—The Raid: Redemption may be a foreign film an under-the-radar indie picture by Hollywood comparisons but it speaks a singular language everyone can understand: butt-kicking.