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 the avalanche of pilot announcements every winter, it's hard to pick a standout. Even the ones that seem promising don't live to see the upgrade to "series" and ones you thought might have been a joke to keep us on our toes are suddenly being produced with real money for real television (ahem, Work It and [UPSIDE DOWN EXCLAMATION POINT FOR FLAVOR]Rob!). But one that rose above the fray, with an order to go straight to series, is CBS's Stephen King adaptation Under the Dome, which has just added Twilight vet Rachelle Lefevre to its lineup.
The sci-fi tale finds a community encapsulated by a mysterious dome that appears, rendering their pleasant lives a post-apocalyptic wasteland. (Watch out, Revolution.) And with the help of Lost EP Jack Bender and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, the series combines the directing know-how of the man behind Sweden's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Neils Arden Oplev, and a sizable cast including Lefevre and Breaking Bad's Dean Norris . The summer series is shaping up to be a must-watch and perhaps a chance for CBS to break into the quality summer programming game currently ruled by AMC and HBO.
RELATED: 'Under the Dome' Casts Villain Dean Norris
Not convinced? Here's why this CBS drama is worth your attention.
1. Rachel Lefevre's Probably Not Going to Be Replaced by Bryce Dallas Howard Again: The red-headed actress originated the role of Victoria, a sadistic, vengeful vampire in the Twilight movies, but as the films' profile rose, she was dropped for a bigger star. This time, Lefevre will get the chance to make and keep her mark (as long as CBS keeps the show) as Julia, an investigative journalist searching for her missing husband, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
2. Dean Norris, You Guys: If there's one terrible side effect of the end of Breaking Bad after this summer, it's that the lack of incredible actors like Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and Norris on television will be a palpable, empty feeling. Luckily, Under the Dome will do its best to ease us through this difficult time with a healthy dose of some Hank Schrader in a giant, post-apocalyptic bubble world.
RELATED: 'Under the Dome' Super Bowl Spot Reveals Nothing
3. Speaking of Which: A Giant Post-Apocalyptic Bubble World: It's an interesting take on the narrative we've been told time and again. The world ends, what now? But unlike on The Walking Dead and Revolution, there is no where else to turn for these people. They can't find others who've suffered their fate. They're stuck together. Just think of all the potential mother-in-law drama.
4. And If Anyone's Going to Lead a Group of Isolated People, It's Lost Vet Bender: Let's see. Drop a group of folks into a dangerous world they can't escape without links to the outside world. Who better to lead the charge than a man who directed and produced ABC's beloved sci-fi drama about a group of people stuck on a mysterious island with no means of escape? No one. That's who.
RELATED: 'Secret Circle' Alum Goes 'Under the Dome'
5. Summer TV is Getting Good: Sure, AMC and HBO have been taking advantage of the dearth of summer programming that doesn't involve water stunts and watching strangers live in an over-surveilled house with an occasional robot visitor, but they can't run that show forever. The networks are getting wise, slowly but surely. And adding Under the Dome to the summer line-up is just the first step. Your move, cable.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
[Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment]
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.
In an afternoon press conference Wednesday, CBS president Les Moonves and Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Chairman Bryce Zabel announced that the the 53rd Annual Emmy Awards will be held on Sunday, Nov. 4 at Los Angeles' Shubert Theater.
The ceremony--which will air live from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. EST and tape delayed on the West Coast--will be broadcast by CBS. Ellen DeGeneres will host.
Moonves and Zabel said that a red-carpet arrival area will be in place, and select nominees, winners and presenters will take part in a patriotic "Unity Dinner" following the ceremony.
Gary Smith will step in produce, as former producer Don Mischer was forced to back out of the twice-delayed show due to his previous commitments as executive producer of the upcoming 2002 Olympic Winter Games.