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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Film studios have brought their wallets to the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, and movies are being bought! In the literal sense--not in a shady, conspiracy theory-type way (Let's save that sort of story line for an actual film).
But all this buying is good, you see: because the quicker these movies get picked up, the sooner they'll arrive in your local cineplex or art house theater, hot and ready for you to enjoy. Below we've rounded-up the latest acquisition moves made at the festival. Here come the movies!
Focus Features will take us to The Place Beyond the Pines - After reading what can only be described as a glowing review from Hollywood.com's own Matt Patches, it's no surprise that Focus Features quickly nabbed up Ryan Gosling's newest film with his Blue Valentine helmer Derek Cianfrance. With a cast that also touts Eva Mendes and Bradley Cooper among its leads, we're sure Focus won't have to put in the hard sell for people to show up.
Michel Gondry's Newest Acquired for North American Distribution - Distribution partners 108 Media and Paladin acquired the rights to The We and The I, Gondry's newest film about a group of Bronx high school kids. The film previously opened the Cannes Directors Fortnight before heading over to TIFF.
Outsource Media Group has Great Expectation - Mike Newell's adaptation (one of many) of the canon-worthy Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations has found a home for its US distribution in Outsource Media Group--a brand new print and advertising finance group. Not that you need a refresher on what the film is about, but it features Helena Bonham Carter as a far less terrifying (but still pretty creepy, at least in the trailer) version of Miss Havisham, a woman who messes with poor little Pip's heart by way of her ward, Estella.
Roadside Attractions Buys Sarah Polley Documentary - In Stories We Tell, the newest documentary from Polley, the repercussions of long-held family secrets finally coming to light are told. The film received much acclaim both at TIFF and Venice, so it seems like a no-brainer for Roadside, who largely deal in independent fare.
Other Notables - Additional films that got picked up today include Dimension nabbing not one but two Eli Roth films: Aftershock and Clown, where he is the writer and producer, respectively. Anchor Bay Films scored Billy Bob Thornton’s Jayne Mansfield’s Car, Film Movement picked up Catherine Corsini’s Three Worlds, and Well Go USA now has Jin-ho Hur’s Dangerous Liaisons.
[Photo Credit: TIFF]
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TIFF 2012: Ryan Gosling's 'Place Beyond the Pines' Aims for 'Godfather'-Style Slow Burn
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TIFF 2012: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence Give Career Bests in 'Silver Linings Playbook'