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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British royal Prince William has "star quality" and a great singing voice, according to Taylor Swift. The Love Story hitmaker performed a surprise duet with the Duke of Cambridge at a charity event in London in November (13) when they teamed up with rocker Jon Bon Jovi for a version of his anthem Livin' On A Prayer.
The musical moment was caught on film and made headlines around the world but many critics took aim at Prince William's vocal delivery, claiming his singing was off-key.
However, Swift has now spoken in detail about the event for the first time, and she is full of praise for the prince's singing skills.
She tells British magazine Event, "Well, both of us were more screaming than singing. But even through all that I could hear his voice and it is pretty good. A nice tone. I'd definitely say he's got star quality, and if he ever wants me to sing with him again I'll be there."
Swift also told how the fun-loving royal asked her to join him onstage when Bon Jovi suggested a duet: "We were in the front row and there were singers like James Blunt, Tinie Tempah, and Eliza Doolittle sitting near us. Jon Bon Jovi got up to perform and he called Prince William out because he'd heard he loves Livin' On A Prayer on karaoke nights... Then he said to everyone in the room, 'If I put pressure on the Karaoke Kid he'll have to get up and sing'.
"Prince William looked at me and said, 'I'll do it if you do it, too,' and then he took my hand. I was surprised and flattered and it felt surreal and completely natural at the same time. We jumped on the stage and started to sing and then we were really yelling into the microphone and clapping hands.
"I still can't believe I've sung with Prince William. But I completely love him - and Kate. I wish I'd got to meet her too because those guys are like this perfect couple. Just looking at them makes me feel happy."
12 Years A Slave has been given yet another big Oscar boost after landing three nominations for the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association's 2014 Dorian Awards. Director Steve McQueen's acclaimed movie's haul from Hollywood's gay community, includes Film of the Year.
The drama will go up against American Hustle, Blue Is the Warmest Color, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her and Laurence Anyways.
12 Years' star Chiwetel Ejiofor is nominated for Film Performance of the Year - Actor, and his co-star Lupita Nyong'o will compete for the Film Performance of the Year - Actress award.
The two will face off with Hollywood heavyweights including Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), James Franco (Spring Breakers), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena) and Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color).
In television, Orange Is the New Black, American Horror Story: Coven, Behind the Candelabra, Breaking Bad and Mad Men will compete for TV Drama of the Year, while The Big Bang Theory, Getting On, Girls, Ja'mie: Private School Girl, Modern Family and Veep will duke it out for TV Comedy of the Year.
Among the small screen actors up for Best Performance awards are Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Michael Douglas (Behind the Candelabra), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Coven), Kerry Washington (Scandal) and Robin Wright (House of Cards).
Meanwhile, veteran comedienne Lily Tomlin, who wed her longtime partner Jane Wagner on New Year's Eve (31Dec13), will receive the Timeless Star accolade, which is given to "an actor or performer whose exemplary career is marked by character, wisdom and wit."
The awards will be announced on 21 January (14), with a formal ceremony to be held in Hollywood on 9 March (14).
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Actor and animal rights activist James Cromwell has signed up to front a hard-hitting new video aimed at bosses of a Minneapolis, Minnesota meat factory, who provide pork products to supermarket chain Walmart. The Babe star appears in the Mercy for Animals film, which features footage from a hidden-camera investigation into practices at the farm.
In the video, Cromwell explains, "Walmart likes to tout its low prices, but when it comes to the pork sold in its stores, animals are left to pay the highest price of all - a life filled with misery and deprivation."
Cromwell, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Farmer Hoggett in the 1995 film about a talking pig, has also joined stars like Ryan Gosling, Kristen Bell and Zooey Deschanel and signed a petition addressed to Walmart CEO Mike Duke, urging him to combat the abuse in farms who supply his stores with meat and poultry.
Last year (12), Cromwell also led a campaign launch protest outside a Los Angeles Walmart.
Newborn royal Prince George's official christening photos have made history by bringing together four generations of present and future British monarchs for a portrait for the first time in over a century. In the main family shot, taken by fashion photographer Jason Bell, proud great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, sits surrounded by her three future kings - George, Prince William and her son Prince Charles, the current heir to the throne.
The Duke of Edinburgh, George's mum Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, uncles Prince Harry of Wales and James Middleton, aunt Pippa Middleton, grandparents Carole and Michael Middleton and step-grandmother Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall are also featured in the happy family portrait, which was taken in the morning room at Clarence House in London following the young prince's christening at the Chapel Royal of St James's Palace on Wednesday (23Oct13).
Prince William and Catherine, Duchess Of Cambridge have chosen seven close friends, including his cousin Zara Tindall, to act as godparents to their son Prince George. The couple will be joined by reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince Harry as the third in line for the throne is baptised at a chapel in St James's Palace in London on Wednesday (23Oct13).
Princess Anne's pregnant daughter Zara will act as godmother, alongside Catherine's school pal Emelia Jardine-Paterson and Julia Samuel, a close friend of the prince's late mother Diana, Princess of Wales.
Godfather duties fall to William and Harry's former private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the prince's childhood friends William van Cutsem and Earl Grosvenor, and Oliver Baker, who attended St. Andrews university in Scotland with the royal couple.
Their decision to choose close friends as their firstborn's godparents breaks with royal tradition of asking members of foreign royal families and the aristocracy to take on the roles.
The Duke of Edinburgh, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Catherine's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, as well as her siblings, Pippa and James, are all expected to be in attendance at the ceremony.
The party will celebrate the baptism with a reception at royal residence Clarence House, where guests will be served cake from the couple's wedding in 2011.
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess Of Cambridge have named their newborn son George Alexander Louis. The royals became first-time parents on Monday (22Jul13) and they debuted their child to the world's media on Tuesday (23Jul13), during a brief appearance outside London's St. Mary's Hospital, where he was born.
The prince admitted to reporters he and his wife had yet to settle on a name for the little boy, but after spending a night with the baby at their Kensington Palace home, they have decided to name him after William's great, great, grandfather, King George VI - the father of British monarch Queen Elizabeth II.
A statement released by palace representatives reads: "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted to announce that they have named their son George Alexander Louis. The baby will be known as His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge."
George had become the clear favourite on Tuesday as a flurry of bets were placed on the baby prince's name, ahead of other traditional monikers James, Alexander and Arthur.
Little George Alexander Louis is now third in line to the throne, behind his dad William and grandfather, Prince Charles.
Queen Elizabeth II's husband the Duke Of Edinburgh has pulled out of an official engagement in London after falling ill. Prince Philip was due to attend the Royal National Institute of Blind People gala at St. James' Palace on Monday (03Jun13) but he withdrew at the last minute as he is feeling "unwell".
A Buckingham Palace spokesman insists the 91 year old is "just a bit under the weather" and will attend a coronation service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate his wife's 60-year reign on Tuesday (04Jun13).
The Queen was still in attendance at Monday's event and watched performances from operatic quartet Il Divo and British stage star Michael Ball.
The Duke, who turns 92 on 10 June (13), also cancelled his appearance at an annual lecture in Windsor, England, last Friday (31May13), and he was hospitalised last August (12) with a recurring bladder infection.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 looks set for one last hurrah after landing seven nominations for the 2013 Teen Choice Awards. The final film in the vampire franchise is shortlisted for both the Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Romance categories, while Robert Pattinson will go head-to-head with his co-star Taylor Lautner for the Movie Actor: Sci-Fi/Fantasy title, against Tom Cruise for Oblivion, James Franco for Oz the Great and Powerful and Iron Man 3 star Robert Downey, Jr.
The British hunk will also compete in the Movie Actor: Romance group, with Les Miserables' Eddie Redmayne, Warm Bodies' Nicholas Hoult, Josh Duhamel for Safe Haven, and Alden Ehrenreich from Beautiful Creatures.
Kristen Stewart has scored double acting nominations too - she will battle for Movie Actress: Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Romance too, with contenders from the two categories including Oz the Great and Powerful's Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams, Les Miserables' Amanda Seyfried and Jessica Biel for Playing For Keeps.
Meanwhile, Iron Man 3, The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall, The Bourne Legacy and G.I. Joe: Retaliation are all up for the Best Action Movie accolade; Argo, Les Miserables, The Great Gatsby, The Impossible and The Perks of Being a Wallflower will duke it out for Best Drama, and the top comedy will be picked from Identity Thief, Peeples, Pitch Perfect, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Warm Bodies.
In the TV categories, Gossip Girl, Nashville and Revenge are in the running for Best Drama, while Glee, Modern Family and New Girl will fight for the Best Comedy award.
Music mentions go to Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake and Pitbull for Male Artist, while Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Rihanna and Taylor Swift are among the Female Artist nominees. And rival boy bands One Direction and The Wanted will face off for Best Group.
The Teen Choice Awards will be voted for by the public and the winners will be unveiled in a ceremony on 11 August (13).