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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The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
The star has applied for planning permission to transform his expansive Pecos River Ranch near Santa Fe into a guesthouse, but local residents have lodged an official complaint with authorities. The group of unhappy residents claim they won't withdraw their objections until the Top Gun star says sorry for a series of remarks he is said to have made in a 2003 interview with Rolling Stone magazine.
Kilmer, who claims to have been misquoted, is alleged to have called New Mexico "the homicide capital of the Southwest" and claimed that "80 per cent of the people in my county are drunk".
He is also accused of berating war veterans in an 2005 interview with Esquire, although the actor has furiously denied he made the statement and has "nothing but praise and respect for veterans".
At a meeting of local authorities last month (May10) to decide on Kilmer's permit application, the group demanded an apology from the star in return for the withdrawal of the complaint. San Miguel County Commission postponed a hearing on Kilmer's application until 23 June (10) and officials have written to Kilmer, urging him to attend the meeting in order to answer questions.
Commission chairperson, David Salazar, tells the Wall Street Journal, "It's a situation that's pretty volatile. The opportunity is there for him to come and set the record straight."
And Jose Garcia, who runs a ranch next to Kilmer's property, adds, "That's all he has to do, come and apologise. We're not intimidated by him."
As the fall festival season swings into full gear with the opening of the Toronto Film Festival, Venice humming along and Telluride wrapping, another festival is heading into the home stretch on the Normandy shores here in Deauville, France.
Although it gets less media attention outside Europe than those other get-togethers, the Deauville Festival of American Film is an important step on the fall calendar for the US majors and for indie fare that otherwise might not get seen on the continent.
Used as a launching pad into Europe, Deauville showcases high-profile pictures -- The Time Traveler's Wife, Julie & Julia, District 9, The Informant! and Gamer have all already screened -- and US indies, which run in a separate competition.
Although the recession can be felt with a lack of glitzy parties, this has frankly been the case for the past couple of years. Still, the stars turn out to help promote their wares. Last weekend Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana, Meryl Streep, Nora Ephron, and others (Howard Stringer included) delighted fest-goers -- La Streep parle francais! -- by putting in an appearance.
Yesterday, Steven Soderbergh gave a press conference for The Informant!, Robin Wright Penn is here today to promote The Private Lives of Pippa Lee and Harrison Ford (a regular attendee) will be in town this weekend as the festival's guest of honor.
Still, it's a bit quiet as compared to a few years ago when George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon all came to town. Damon for his part, Soderbergh's producer Gregory Jacobs told journalists yesterday, would have been here this year but it was his daughter's first day at a new school and she really wanted him to take her. "As much as he loves Deauville, he loves his daughter more," Jacobs said -- to applause.
Soderbergh was queried by local journalists about The Informant!, but also about his relationship with Damon and Clooney. Although he's worked with Damon on several films, he said he would refer to him as more of a colleague than a friend. "I think he uses the term 'friend' very seriously and so do I. It sounds bad when you say someone famous is your friend, so no, he's not my friend."
Clooney was a different matter, however, "George is my friend, and I'll tell you why -- it's because I've been to his house. Matt has never invited me to his house."
France may be the country of the auteur and a place where navel-gazing about film is a national pastime, but French film journalists, you see, still get kind of giddy in the presence of a famous person -- and especially one who has ties to even more famous people.
After a journalist referenced the notorious shenanigans during the Ocean's shoots and asked, given Damon's participation in both films, about any anecdotes on the Informant set, Soderbergh said the shoot was rather uneventful in those terms.
"George is the real prankster," he said. And Pitt "had better watch his back," he added, talking about one of the Ocean's films on which Pitt had convinced the crew that Clooney insisted upon being referred to as "Mr. Ocean" -- a caprice that made it into the press and apparently drew serious ire from George.
Clooney still hasn't retaliated against Pitt, Soderbergh said, "but he is a very patient man. I asked him if he had something and he said, 'Yeah, I'm working on something.' He will wait 10 years to get him and it will destroy Brad."
Over on the indie side, Richard Linklater was here the other day to present his out-of-competition film Me and Orson Welles and Mira Sorvino visited for Like Dandelion Dust.
In the indie competition, the Paul Giamatti-starrer Cold Souls, Kevin Spacey's turn as a Shrink, Lynn Shelton's close-up on male friendship Humpday and the Woody Harrelson war film The Messenger are among those to have screened thus far.
Miguel Arteta's Youth In Revolt premieres tomorrow followed by Sundance favorite Precious. Andy Garcia will be in town as the subject of a tribute and in support of Raymond De Felitta's City Island.
Luc Besson will also be here on Friday in support of documentary The Cove, which his EuropaCorp is releasing in France. The press-shy filmmaker/mogul will typically forgo a press conference, however.
The awards, which in the past have presaged Oscar nominations with acuity (see Crash, Little Miss Sunshine, The Visitor) will be presented on Sunday.
Full story: http://power.networksolutions.com/index.html
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Actress Angelina Jolie was named as goodwill ambassador by the UN refugee agency UNHCR in Geneva on Monday, Reuters reports. Jolie was apparently close to tears when she recalled her trips to refugee camps in Pakistan and Sierra Leone, describing the conditions as frightening and shocking. Other goodwill ambassadors have included Sophia Loren and Richard Burton.
French actor Philippe Leotard died Saturday in a Paris clinic from respiratory failure at the age of 60, Reuters reports. Leotard appeared in films such as Les Miserables in 1995 and French Connection II in 1975. President Jacques Chirac said in a statement, "For all French people, Phillipe Leotard will remain one of our most moving artists."
A Marin County Superior Court is refusing to dismiss a lawsuit over the ownership of five of Jerry Garcia's guitars, the Associated Press reports. Grateful Dead Productions, the company representing the surviving band mates, asked Judge Michael Dufficy to dismiss a lawsuit by Doug Irwin for custody of the guitars. Irwin, a custom guitar maker who built the instruments for Garcia, says he is the guitar's rightful owner. Garcia left the guitars to Irwin in his will but Grateful Dead Productions claims to have bought the guitars and that they were not for Garcia to give away. Dufficy ruled last week that the company had not proven that Irwin's three-year statute of limitations to claim the guitars had expired.
A federal appellate court dismissed a lawsuit by producer Kevin McClory against MGM and Danjaq Prods. that claimed he was the co-creator of the James Bond character. According to Variey, Monday's decision upheld a lower-court ruling last year dismissing the suit on the grounds that McClory took too long to assert his rights to the Bond character. McClory collaborated with writer Ian Fleming in the 1950s on a script for Thunderball, and obtained some rights to the story in 1963.
The Dixie Chicks are countersuing Sony Music Entertainment and accusing the company of "systematic thievery" for duping them out of more than $4 million in royalties, according to AP. The country music trio is also seeking to end a seven-album deal with Sony. The company sued the Dixie Chicks in July for breach of contract and accused the group of trying to leave the label by trumping up claims that they had been underpaid. The suit also said that the Dixie Chicks demanded the company renegotiate their contract despite being paid millions.
In the ongoing battle for the Screen Actors Guild presidency, Valerie Harper has turned down Melissa Gilbert's invitation to take part in a public debate, Variety reports. Harper said that SAG issues are private and should not be reduced to fodder for the media. Gilbert responded to Harper's statements by saying it would be inappropriate to expect members to vote without having the opportunity to hear the candidate's views on relevant issues. Gilbert has chosen MASH star Mike Farrell as her running mate.
Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham is hitting the bookstores in double doses. According to Reuters, the self-promoting ex-Spice Girl is publishing an autobiography entitled Learning to Fly on September 13. That is 11 days before an unauthorized biography, Victoria's Secrets, hits shelves. Written by Virginia Blackburn, the tell-all Victoria's Secrets is based on interviews with ex-boyfriends, friends and former dance teachers. Posh also has a new single coming out on Sept. 17 called "Not Such an Innocent Girl."
The WB network has decided to shelve the 13-episode season of the animated series Baby Blues, as well as six episodes held over from last season, Variety reports. The show reportedly did not fit in with WB's five new live-action, adult-oriented shows this fall.
The Cuban artists and bands that were nominated for the Latin Grammy awards have all been cleared to travel to attend the Sept. 11 event in Los Angeles and are awaiting entry visas from the US government, Reuters reports. The show was moved to Los Angeles from Miami because of concerns that protests from Cuban exile groups could jeopardize the safety of performers and guests.
Jennifer Lopez, Celia Cruz and Lou Diamond Phillips have been added as presenters for the 2nd Annual Latin Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in next month. Artist Alejandro Fernandez and his father Vicente Fernandez will also perform together for the first time in the U.S., joining previously announced appearances by Juanes, Luis Miguel, Alejandro Sanz and Thalia. The Latin Grammy Awards will be telecast on CBS on Sept. 11.
In a boy band first, the Backstreet Boys are preparing to release a greatest hits album. According to ABC News, the compilation is scheduled for release on Oct. 23 and will include the new single "Drowning" from their latest album Black & Blue. The Backstreet Boys have released four albums so far.
Whoopi Goldberg's online gift currency company Flooz.com will file for bankruptcy, according to its Web site. According to a message posted on the site, the company blames changes in capital markets and a general slowdown in the economy for the setback. However, a New York Times report noted that the Web site became a target for thieves in both Russia and the Philippines who used stolen credit cards to buy $300,000 in Flooz during the past three months.
Maybe they should call Carlos Santana "King of the World." Just a few months after his veritable sweep of the Grammy Awards, Santana took three trophies, including the record of the year award for "Corazon Espinado," his duet with Mexican rock band Mana, at the newfangled Latin Grammys on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
"It feels like the first kiss," Santana said after winning. "It feels very natural and divine and human." The guitar god extraordinaire dedicated his awards to Africa, the women of the world, bilingual education and Nelson Mandela.
It was a star-studded event, as they say. Heavyweights such as Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera and 'N Sync were among those trolling down the red carpet, and Ricky Martin opened the ceremony by performing a tribute to the late Tito Puente. The show was hosted by Lopez, Gloria Estefan, Andy Garcia and Jimmy Smits.
The evening's other winners included crooner Luis Miguel (three awards), Shakira (two awards) and Marc Anthony (song of the year).
Here's a complete list of the winners:
Record of the year: "Corazon Espinado," Santana featuring Mana
Album of the Year: "Amarte Es Un Placer," Luis Miguel
Song of the year: "Dimelo (I Need To Know)," Marc Anthony, Robert Blades, Angie Chirino and Cory Rooney (Marc Anthony)
New artist: Ibrahim Ferrer
Male pop vocal performance: "Tu Mirada," Luis Miguel
Female pop vocal performance: "Ojos Asi," Shakira
Pop performance by a duo or group with vocal: "Se Me Olvido Otra Vez," Mana
Pop instrumental performance: "El Farol," Santana
Pop album: Amarte Es Un Placer, Luis Miguel
Rock performance by a duo or group with vocal: "Corazon Espinado," Santana featuring Mana
Male rock vocal performance: "Al Lado Del Camino," Fito Paez
Female rock vocal performance: "Octavo Dia," Shakira
Rock song: "Al Lado Del Camino," Fito Paez (Fito Paez)
Rock album: Reves/Yo Soy, Cafe Tacuba
Salsa performance: "Celia Cruz and Friends: A Night Of Salsa," Celia Cruz
Merengue performance: "Ni Es Lo Mismo Ni Es Igual," Juan Luis Guerra y 440
Ranchero performance: "Mi Verdad," Alejandro Fernandez
Traditional tropical performance: "Mambo Birdland," Tito Puente
Tropical song: "El Niagara En Bicicleta," Juan Luis Guerra (Juan Luis Guerra y 440)
Banda performance: "Lo Mejor De Mi Vida," Banda El Recodo
Grupero performance: "En La Madrugada Se Fue," Los Temerarios
Tejano performance: "Por Eso Te Amo," Los Palominos
Norteno performance: "Herencia De Familia," Los Tigres Del Norte
Folk album: Misa Criolla, Mercedes Sosa
Tango album: Postales Del Alma, Juan Carlos Baglietto & Lito Vitale
Flamenco album: Paris 87, Camaron Con Tomatito
Latin jazz album (two winners): Spain, Michel Camilo & Tomatito; Tropicana Nights, Paquito D'Rivera
Brazilian contemporary pop album: Crooner, Milton Nascimento
Brazilian rock album: Acustico0--MTV, Os Paralamas Do Sucesso
Samba/pagode album: Zeca Pagodinho Ao Vivo, Zeca Pagodinho
MPB (musica popular brasileira) album: Livro, Caetano Veloso
Sertaneja album: Sergio Reis E Convidados, Sergio Reis
Brazilian roots/regional album: Pixinguinha, Paulo Moura e os Batutas
Brazilian song: "Acelerou," Djavan (Djavan)
Latin children's album: A Mis Ninos De 30 Anos, Miliki
Classical album: La Dolores -- Tomas Breton, Tito Beltran, Placido Domingo, Manuel Lanza, Antoni Ros Marba, Elisabete Matos
Engineered album: Ni Es Lo Mismo Ni Es Igual
Producer of the year: Emilio Estefan Jr.
Music video: "No Me Dejes De Querer," Gloria Estefan
Photos courtesy of Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect and Livecast Inc.