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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Forbidden love — the most all-consuming variety in the array of humanly preoccupations. In recent days, film and television star Kirstie Alley has come clean about the prohibited affections that plagued her throughout her Hollywood career. Alley told Barbara Walters during an interview on 20/20 that she "fell hard for John Travolta" during their time shooting Look Who's Talking in 1989; Alley called her costar "the greatest love of [her] life" and proclaimed her struggle with desires to run away with and marry him (despite the fact that she was married at the time to Parker Stevenson). Following this admission, Alley spoke with Us Weekly about similar feelings for Patrick Swayze that she experienced during the filming of the 1985 Civil War miniseries North and South. Both Alley and Swayze were married during the time of these allegedly mutual feelings.
It's no easy feat dealing with a case of verbotene liebe. There are plenty of mature ways to handle difficult circumstances like these: counseling, artwork, opening your mind to a healthy relationship elsewhere. But none of these hold a candle to the greatest outlet for romantic turmoil — MASH. The middle school matchmaking game that is guaranteed to land you with your soul mate. Considering Alley's proclivity for falling for costars, we've devised a game of MASH that'll help the Cheers and Dancing with the Stars vet through the trying times of love unspoken (well, now it's pretty spoken, but she waited a good while).
M. A. S. H.
Stay-at-home mom for talking baby
Owner of lingerie company
(This one is always just filler)
Civil War-era America
Sometimes, revisiting the simpler days of junior high is the best way imaginable to confront a complex problem. Thank you, MASH, for making heart-wrenching love seem a little less like an actual thing, and more like something just there to pass the time during fourth period math.
[Photo Credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage]
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In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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When Lt. Col. Henry Blake bid his heartfelt farewell to his tenacious right-hand man Radar O'Reilly on the third season finale of M*A*S*H, it seemed as though he'd be an improbable act to follow. When the series picked up again the fall of of 1975, reporting the shock to its characters and audience that Blake had died due to a plane crash en route to return safely to his wife and family, that task of adequately stepping in for Blake's portrayer McLean Stevenson was stepped up to near-impossible.
But then, we got to know Col. Sherman Potter, played so magnificently by Harry Morgan. And not only did our perspectives change, so did the entire show.
Early this morning, Morgan, a decorated character actor in film and television, passed away at the age of 96. Despite his extensive resume of playing memorable tough guys and no-nonsense authority figures, including a starring role on Dragnet, it is difficult not to associate Morgan almost universally with Sherman Potter, a character to whom M*A*S*H, one of the most influential television series in American history, owes a great deal of its sincerity.
Potter was not a humorless figure by any means, but his attitude was much less flippant than that of the troublemaking Hawkeye Pierce, Trapper McIntyre, B.J. Hunnicutt, and even the commanding officer Blake whom he replaced. In fact, before Potter's arrival on the series, the figures of responsibility and severity—Hot Lips Houlihan and Frank Burns—were seen as antagonistic "kill-joy" characters. In Morgan, M*A*S*H found a way to channel authenticity without sacrificing likability. The series began favoring the comical characters who shirked the chain of command and understood pleasure over principle. But once M*A*S*H found Morgan, it began to find its maturity.
And this is as much a testament to the writing of the character as it is to the performance. Morgan was able to make us feel comfortable with understanding the heartache of M*A*S*H, the significance of this time period, and the importance of growing up and accepting your lot in life. Hawkeye Pierce would rather have remained a hedonistic teenager—albeit, one quite talented at surgery—than really face the fact that he, as a military doctor, owed something to the world. Whereas the character of Frank Burns villainized the idea of "taking yourself too seriously," as Potter, Morgan humanized the notion, exemplifying the honor and dignity in becoming the man or woman you are destined to be.
Without this, M*A*S*H would have suffered an arrest of development. Morgan helped the show grow up, and helped many of its watchers do the same. It is astounding that a man who made so few jokes, a man who was thrust into the series as a replacement for a beloved, beaming, laugh-a-minute character, could be remembered as such a venerable figure in the show's history.
Morgan's task was not an easy one. His placement in the show was difficult, as was his journey of making his character, one among Hawkeyes, Klingers and Radars, a lovable one. But Morgan did this and then some. His fatherly, earnest performance as Potter is something so palpable, that it's difficult for fans not to think of him as some embodiment of a personal role model. If the true testament of a great actor is really touching, affecting one's viewers, and really becoming a part of their lives, then we owe Morgan this accolade.
Today, we should salute Harry Morgan, and fondly remember his service to the American public.