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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Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
Hundreds of mourners flocked to the funeral of David Carradine over the weekend -- including former co-stars Lucy Liu, Tom Selleck and Jane Seymour.
The actor was buried in the grounds of Los Angeles' Forest Law Cemetery, and the poignant event attracted a wide range of mourners who gathered to pay their respects -- including several Hells Angels who escorted the coffin to the graveyard.
Carradine's funeral comes almost two weeks after the actor's naked body was found hanging in a wardrobe of a Bangkok hotel on June 4.
And the late star was obviously popular in Hollywood -- more than 400 people came to say their final farewell to the Kill Bill actor.
Mourners including Michael Madsen sat around the star's resting place to share their memories of his life.
Carradine's brother Bruce explained to People.com that the day was a happy one: "There weren't a lot of tears, but there was a lot of laughter."
An investigation into the star's death is still ongoing. An initial autopsy report carried out by Thai coroners reveals Carradine died from a sudden lack of oxygen, while an independent autopsy has ruled out suicide.
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MORE NEWS: Fawcett Is Still Stable
Yoko Ono unveiled a seven-foot bronze statue of John Lennon on Friday commemorating the renaming of Liverpool's airport to "Liverpool John Lennon Airport," Reuters reports. Under the statue of the late Beatle are the words "Above us only sky" from the song "Imagine." Sculpted by local artist Tom Murphy, the statue overlooks the check-in hall in the newly remodeled terminal. Ono recently purchased Lennon's childhood home in Liverpool and donated it to the National Trust, which already owns Paul McCartney's childhood home.
The case brought against 20th Century Fox accusing the studio of damaging a tropical island in Thailand while shooting The Beach will be re-opened in a Thai court in May. In order to create an idyllic tropical setting for the film, the studio planted dozens of coconut trees at Maya Beach on Phi Phi Lek island in 1999. According to Ananova.com, the Krabi Provincial Administration and island residents filed a lawsuit demanding that the ecosystem be restored, claiming the beach has since been destroyed by monsoon rains because the studio destroyed the natural vegetation that once protected the beach.
Fox's Celebrity Boxing on Wednesday night scored some of the season's highest ratings for an entertainment special. The hour-long show, which featured boxing matches between Tonya Harding and Paula Jones, Danny Bonaduce and Barry Williams and Vanilla Ice and Todd Bridges, won its 9 p.m. time slot with 15.48 million viewers, reports Variety. A second installment of Celebrity Boxing is under consideration but no decision has been made yet.
Rumor has it that Paul McCartney and Heather Mills will tie the knot in the Hamptons on June 6, Sky News reports. The two met in 1999 and announced last summer that they would get married some time next year, but gave no further details.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is set to revive two action franchises from Warner Bros., including a remake of Michael Crichton's Westworld and a third installment of the Conan the Barbarian series, reports Entertainment Weekly. Schwarzenegger is also starring in Warner Bros.' Terminator 3, which is slated for release in July 2003.
The Screen Actors Guild has told its members not to sign non-union contracts for Russell Crowe's Master and Commander, which begins filming in Baja, California, this summer. According to Variety, SAG is enforcing its "Global Rule One" which disciplines members who work non-union outside the United States.
Ethiopian officials have complained that the film Beyond Borders starring Angelina Jolie only shows the country's drought and starvation in 1984 and none of the progress made since, the Associated Press reports. A spokesman for the Ethiopian embassy in South Africa said that the media should "strive to include [a] positive image of our continent" and that "negative images about Ethiopia [do] not help the whole of Africa."
Daryl Hannah has joined the ensemble cast of Quentin Tarantino's next project Kill Bill. The film stars Uma Thurman and Warren Beatty. Lucy Liu is also in final talks to come on board. Shooting is set to begin in June in California, China, Japan and Mexico, reports Variety.
Singer Lauren Hill and magician David Blaine will join performers at the live auction benefit People and Places With No Name on Tuesday at the Ace Gallery in Los Angeles. The auction will feature fine art, photography and jewelry, with proceeds going to providing awareness and aid in Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Angola, Launch.com reports.
U2 frontman Bono says he has a new name around the White House: "The Pest." Bono met with President Bush on Thursday to discuss AIDS and the administration's new initiative on U.S. aid to poor countries, AP reports. He told reporters, "I am a pest; I am a stone in the shoe of a lot of people living here in this town; a squeaky wheel."
Mel Gibson's got a new movie in town and its called The Captain and the Shark. No, it's not a film about a wacky sea captain and his pet shark. It's the very real account of the USS Indianapolis, the WWII cruiser that covertly transported the atomic bombs to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The ship was hit in 1945 by Japanese torpedoes and sank in the Pacific, but because the operation was so secretive, a rescue was delayed and many men died by shark attacks while waiting for one. We all remember the chilling account Robert Shaw's character Quint gave in Jaws about this very thing. Honestly, who thinks up these titles? Is there a collective hat somewhere? Gibson is in negotiations to star as Capt. Charles McVay, whom the Navy made a scapegoat for its mistakes, including ignoring distress signals. McVay was court-martialed and eventually committed suicide in 1968 but was recently exonerated by the Navy. Barry Levinson will direct the film for Warner Bros. So, you can see, this is serious stuff and has the makings of a great movie. But somehow, somewhere, a studio development exec will have to realize that this title has got to go.
Winona has a "Secret"
Lovely Winona Ryder will don a British accent once again in the British romantic comedy Lily and The Secret Planting, a follow-up feature for director Hettie Macdonald, who brought us Beautiful Thing in 1996. Ryder will play a young woman taking care of her mother who falls in love with an Australian working at the local plant nursery. There could be some interesting possibilities as far as leading men are concerned--there's Aussies Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger...maybe Russell Crowe. Yeah, right. Well, whoever stars opposite the actress, let's hope there's at least a little chemistry between them because Ryder hasn't shown much with her leading men lately. Autumn in New York with Richard Gere? Enough said. Production starts in London at the end of the month.
Soderbergh's "sex" lives on
Oscar-winning Steven Soderbergh has decided to return to his roots. He will re-team with Miramax Films to bring us How to Survive a Hotel Room Fire, a sequel of sorts to his brilliant sex, lies and videotape. Yes, it's true. Soderbergh wants to revisit those dark, sexy and funny characters who fumble about, trying to figure out what to do with themselves--and I can't wait. There's not much yet on what the film is about or whether Graham (James Spader), Ann (Andie MacDowell), Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo) or John (Peter Gallagher) will return. But Soderbergh said in a statement, "I'm extremely happy to be working with Miramax on How to Survive a Hotel Room Fire because Harvey Weinstein and I have been apart too long and the film was always envisioned as the unofficial sequel to sex, lies and videotape." sex, you'll remember, basically started the American independent movement in 1989, putting the Sundance Film Festival and Miramax Films on the map and winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes. No pressure or anything, Steven. Promise. Soderbergh is currently in post-production on his eagerly awaited remake of Ocean's 11 and will most likely start on this soon after.
Actor Paul Walker is indeed Fast and Furious. Hot off his hit racing film, the young hunk seems to be sought after. First, there's the mob drama Wanna-Be I mentioned last week and now--SWAT. Forgive me for rolling my eyes once again, but do any of the studio development execs have a clue? It's apparent that whatever amount of action they can shove on the screen, the better, and a film about the Special Weapons and Tactics team seems just about right. This project, based on the 1970s cop series, has been long in development. The premise centers on a grizzled vet SWAT officer who is given a second chance to assemble a new SWAT team to protect a high-profile criminal. OK, now I get why it's taken so long. The project was originally an Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, but has turned into a youth-oriented action movie. Don't feel too bad, Arnold, you really don't need another bad action movie under your belt.
Beam us up--again and again
Star Trek live and breathes once again--now in its 10th installment. The film, as yet untitled, will be directed by Stuart Baird (U.S. Marshals, Executive Decision) and will re-team Patrick Stewart as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard and Brent Spiner as Data, for now. No word on whether any of the other cast members will join them. Veteran Rick Berman will produce for Paramount Pictures once again but the film has yet to be greenlighted. Wow, this is one franchise that certainly has enough legs to never get boring. Considered one of the most successful series in entertainment history, the Star Trek movies have grossed more than $1 billion at the box office worldwide and more than $5 billion from ancillaries such as merchandising and home video. Make it so, No. 1.
Banderas and Liu--the new Terminators?
How does a movie about two Terminator-like undercover agents who look like Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu sound? OK, I like both of them...I'm going with it. The good-looking stars are in negotiations to star in Ecks vs. Sever (another title for the annals), a futuristic tale about two undercover agents, Ecks (Banderas) and Sever (Liu), who apparently have robotic attributes. They think they are enemies but in reality share the same common enemy. What's that? A rusting agent? This one definitely sounds promising, all kidding aside, as its being described as Bad Boys meets The Professional. And Banderas and Liu have been together before in the 1999 Playing It to the Bone-but most of you won't remember that fact. I certainly didn't. Ecks vs. Sever is being produced by Chris Lee (Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within) and marks the North American feature directorial debut of Thai filmmaker Kaos.
Ah, the blaxploitation craze rears its ugly head again. First there was John Singleton's Shaft, an updated version of the Richard Roundtree cult classic with Samuel L. Jackson and now, Dolemite, revamped for rapper-turned-actor LL Cool J and Dimension Films. In this modernized version, LL Cool J plays a hip entrepreneur who is sent to jail when drugs are found at his swinging nightclub. When released on parole, he finds out that his rival planted those drugs and has now taken over his club. Dolemite goes into revenge mode with the help of his three female friends, who manage to wipe the place up with their butt-kicking skills. Hmmm, a Charlie's Angels-esque quality. Maybe they could get the gals from Destiny's Child to do it. The original Dolemite, Rudy Ray Moore, who is now doing standup, will advise and play a role.