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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An Irish festival featuring performances by Bjork and the Arctic Monkeys has been marred by the death of a 20-year-old music fan The 10th Electric Picnic festival took place in Stradbally, County Laois over the weekend (30Aug13-01Sep13), but the three-day event, which also included sets by My Bloody Valentine, DJ Fatboy Slim and Disclosure, has been overshadowed by the tragic news of Phil McConnell's passing.
The man, who had a history of cardiac problems, died in the early hours of Saturday (31Aug13), when he was found unconscious on the campsite grounds.
It is not yet known if his death was drug-related, but the sad incident prompted festival organisers to issue an alert, warning fans to be aware of purchasing illegal substances.
A message posted on the Electric Picnic's official Twitter.com page read: "There may be some potentially dodgy 'Blue Ghosts/Casper' (ecstasy) pills circulating online. We urge you Picnickers to be very careful, stay safe."
S3E13: Modern Family isn’t really the sort of show with a lot of hype or controversy surrounding any of its storylines. This week’s “Little Bo Bleep” is the exception, as its plotline of three year-old Lily uttering a (bleeped out) F-word stirred up some trouble with the network, and a few fans. But watching the episode reinstates to me why Modern Family demands antagonism so infrequently, and why, presumably, ABC realized it could trust the show in the handling of this sort of story: even when an episode revolves around a toddler spouting profanities, Modern Family is just about the least profane, most warm and family-friendly show on television today.
“I saw the need for a stopsign—” – Claire
“LIAAAR!” – Phil
“Phil…?” – Claire
“I just think you should be ready for anything.” – Phil
That is not to say that we’re dealing with nonstop hugging and Bradyesque sweetness. In fact, the Dunphy household displays a good deal of intra-family antagonism this week, although not for entirely malicious reasons. Claire is still running for town council, and enlists her wacky family to help her prepare for a debate (I suddenly realize that Claire Dunphy and Leslie Knope are in very similar boats this season…) against Duane Bailey, played again by David Cross. When a local paper reports that townspeople find Claire to be “unlikable,” Alex sets up a mock debate while Phil, Haley and Luke all toss in their suggestions of how she can patch up her attitude. The remarks revolve around Claire’s excessive use of sarcasm, hostility, rigid body movements, and the apparently unattractive left side of her face.
“I’m afraid that doggy suicide is all too real. It’s just that the mainstream media doesn’t report on it because it’s not as sexy as feline AIDS.” – Duane Bailey
Meanwhile, Modern Family sets up another story about the love triangle between Jay, Gloria and Stella. In case you’re forgetting, Stella is their dog. Gloria resents Stella because of how much Jay adores her, and Jay worries that when Stella, who cannot swim, begins jumping in the backyard swimming pool repeatedly, that she is trying to kill herself due to Gloria’s animosity. Now, I might very well be swayed by my dog-loving nature, but I want to commend Modern Family for presenting another episode with a practically identical theme that does not seem to be a complete rehashing. Last time this well was visited, Jay was the one who ended up paying the sacrifice, forcing Stella to sleep in the hallway to show Gloria that he cherishes her more than his dog. This time, we see Gloria coming around and warming up to her husband’s pet when she dives into the pool, all dolled up in a fancy dress, in order to save the “drowning” pup. It turns out that Stella was only after a chew toy that was caught in the pool’s vent all along, but Gloria’s willingness to put Stella’s safety—or, at least, Jay’s happiness—before herself works to enhance a character who is sometimes a bit of a one-trick pony. I understand why the show uses Gloria for quick laughs sometimes—it’s a comedy. And that’s no crime. But I enjoy Gloria more when her warmth and spirit are serving a story, rather than her inability to pronounce things.
“You know I have two weaknesses: children cursing and old people rapping!” – Cam
And the notorious plotline: Mitchell and Cam receive a flower girl dress that Lily is to wear during the wedding of an upcoming family friend. After Mitchell takes advantage of Lily’s curiosity as a means to bolster her vocabulary, getting her excited about what the package “contains” (a word she quickly learns). However, we find out that Lily is also privy to another unexpected word: the F-word. She utters it almost out of nowhere, inciting horror in Mitchell and hysterical laughter in Cam, who admits he has a weakness for children saying curse words. A surprisingly small amount of time is devoted to this story, especially given the amount of infamy it garnered. And what I am even more surprised about—although not necessarily displeased—is a lack of blame placing between Mitchell and Cam over which of them is the responsible party for inadvertently teaching her the word. I suppose it would be a natural discussion to have, but I am certainly glad the episode doesn’t force us through yet another Mitchell-Cam thirty-minute argument. Instead, the duo discusses trying to prevent her from saying the word again—especially at the upcoming wedding whereat she is to play flower girl. Cam can’t help but laugh every time Lily utters the word—which turns out to be her motivation for cursing in the first place (which is kind of sweet), but the more serious-by-nature Mitchell is dead sent on cleaning up Lily’s language. We see hardly any of this procedure transpire; by the wedding scene, Lily has been apparently prohibited from speaking at all. You know, just in case.
“How did you get so smart?” – Claire
“I’ve always assumed adoption or a baby-switch.” – Alex
Claire’s big debate has her a nervous wreck, especially thanks to her family’s relentless criticisms. Just before she takes to the stage, however, Claire gets some encouraging words from Alex, the Pritchett-est of her three children. Alex tells Claire that she is a strong woman, and that by embracing her natural strength, she will defeat Bailey. What Alex doesn’t account for is Bailey’s citation of a particularly humiliating piece of character defamation from the Season 2 episode “Bixby’s Back,” when Claire’s husband Phil found himself naked in a strange woman’s hotel room on Valentine’s Day (he thought it was a room Claire checked into for the occasion). Up until this point, Claire handles the debate rather well. But this makes her break just a bit. Nothing catastrophic, though. No—what’s catastrophic is Phil’s interlude from the audience. He starts off on a rambling explanation of the event which provokes an embarrassing viral video. What I don’t entirely understand about this conclusion is how it actually serves the story at all. The episode for the Dunphys was about Claire’s likability and her support from her family. Although a following second conversation with Alex wraps it up very sweetly, with Claire’s daughter telling her how proud of and impressed by her she is for getting involved in something nerdy (“Nerdy is kind of [her] thing”), the Phil scene, while funny, sort of comes out of left field and doesn’t really contribute anything to Claire’s story.
The wedding scene has the family all together—Alex picks up Claire with her loving words, Jay admits appreciation to Gloria for saving Stella, and Mitchell and Cam fawn over their daughter sprinkling flowers down the aisle. And then, of course, Cam breaks out in tears, as he tends to do at weddings…and in an effort to cheer her sobbing father up, Lily shouts one last string of F-words, provoking laughter from everyone in the family (and most of the ceremony). And although it probably doesn’t speak well to my character to get on the “pro-toddler-cursing” train, it is just about the sweetest, warmest and most innocent way the storyline could be delivered. That’s Modern Family for you.
Do you think Modern Family crossed the line having Lily curse? Do you think the show handled the storyline well? Where do you think they'll go with Claire's plight for public office? Let us know in the comments section or on Twitter (@MichaelArbeiter).
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.
S2E14: Ah, another Modern Family Valentine’s Day episode. I guess its a little unfair to say that considering there has been only one other - ah forget it. IMAGINE ME NAAAAAAKED!
This was a fantastic episode, but the reappearance of Dylan on the flatbed truck, with full band in tow and a new song dedicated to Haley? Icing on the cake, my friends. Combine that with Phil and Claire getting it on, Jay and Gloria riding wild on their new bike, and Cam and Mitchell celebrating a quiet evening all at the same time? Glorious.
What made it so perfect, besides being hilarious, was that each family represented a different aspect of the same theme. As we’ve seen, when every family is connected (even by the smallest thread) it makes the episode better as a whole. The theme this week, at least for me, was what makes being in a relationship awesome: Dylan showing Haley romance through theatrics, Phil and Claire showing it by getting it on, Jay and Gloria by trying to make the other happy, and Cam and Phil by just being content with each other. It was sweet, totally unnecessary, flamboyant, heartwarming, and funny. Basically what Valentines Day is really all about.
Before getting into the individual story lines - I just have to point out the reservation at Ibiza’s. Each couple used the SAME reservation, all at different times, and each for different reasons. And if we think the coda where Cam and Mitchell order take out is from Valentine’s night, then no family actually ate at the restaurant. It's a little thing, but it separates Modern Family from the rest.
"I’m usually good at catching things from women in bars." -Phil
Phil and Claire start off this year’s Valentine’s Day doing the opposite of what they did last year, i.e. trying to keep the passion going. They make reservations at a swanky place but when they’re surrounded by old people (and Phil takes off in a Jazzy) Claire decides to rekindle the spark. So once again out comes Julianna and Clive Bixby. And once again, Phil messes everything up. He doesn’t understand the subtleties of Claire’s ruse but in Phil’s defense, I wouldn’t want to upset Claire either so his actions are sorta justifiable. But he grabs the wrong key and ends up in some lady’s hotel room. Hijinks ensued.
"It defeats the purpose of Valentine’s Day if you make it into some silly competition." -Jay
"Shut up, I win." -Gloria
Jay and Gloria started off the weaker story this week (turns out there weren’t any weak stories this week), but by the end it redeemed itself. Jay wanted to trick Gloria into thinking he had forgotten and flubbed up Valentine’s Day when he had actually catered a fancy dinner back at the house. The reservation screw up was just a red herring. But when they get back, the dinner and show weren’t set up. Turns out Gloria had turned one on him and set up the dinner in the garage. And also bought him a motorcycle. Take that, Gloria’s dress, and her line “Shut up, I win” and we have one of the stronger Jay and Gloria stories this season.
"‘Well pick out china and move to Vermont." -Mitchell
Cam and Mitchell was another surprisingly good story this week. Cam is initially jealous of Mitchell’s new assistant who Cam thinks has a crush on Mitchell. Mitchell denies it but secretly enjoys it. But then Cam comes to the office one day and realizes that the assistant actually has a thing for him. Or so he thinks. They get into a petty argument (again) about who is recipient of the crush and they’re about to drive over to the dude’s house when he texts Mitchell his resignation. Of course, he doesn’t make it clear who he had the hots for but it was a sweet ending. Also, the return of Cam’s bike shorts? Still one of the best dick jokes on network television.
"She’s had the romantic. She’s had the intelligent. Now how about all that in one little brown package?" -Manny
Then we come to the kids. I’ve just about come to the conclusion that each week will have one kid missing and probably for child labor law reasons, but this week we actually see every kid but Luke doesn’t say anything! HOW CAN YOU TEASE US LIKE THIS MODERN FAMILY? NOT COOL, BRO.
Anyway, Haley breaks up with her latest BF, the nerd. She’s feeling unsure about this but luckily the doctor of love himself, Manny, is there to swoop in and sweep her off her feet. Haley is apprehensive at first but eventually listens to his advice, but then Dylan shows up with the flatbed and she runs right back into his arms. Awwwwww. Then a very odd thought popped into my head. I know Manny’s relationship to Haley is supposed to be like a boyhood crush, but Manny is Haley’s uncle. Step uncle, but uncle still. Which makes Manny a well articulated creepy uncle. You’re welcome for that thought.
The actress grew up in Charleston, West Virginia, and one Valentine's Day (14Feb) she decided to treat her dream boy to an impromptu rendition of Collins' 1988 hit.
But the boy's mother was not impressed - and Garner received a stern warning about her early morning playing.
She says, "I was 15 and I really liked this guy. I used to play the Saxophone - so I thought it would be a really good idea to go round to his house on Valentine’s Day at five in the morning with my sax and stand underneath his window and play Groovy Kind of Love. The Phil Collins hit.
"But then his Mum leaned out the window and told me to go away because I was disturbing the neighbours!”