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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Proving that it's no wimp at the box office, Fox’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules tops the weekend with an impressive $24.4 million. Families and kids evidently want to follow the further expolits of Rodrick and Greg Heffley as they deal with various humiliations and occasional triumphs of adolescent life. The original film in the franchise opened about just over ayear ago in second place (behind juggernaut Alice in Wonderland) with a solid $22.1 million and went on to earn $64 million domestically. This installment clearly capitalize on the fact that it is the only live action family film in wide release in the marketplace and Fox backed it up with a terrific marketing campaign.
Sucker Punch from visionary director Zack Snyder who had success in bringing both his Spartan-epic 300 and the hyper-kinetic reality of Watchmen to the big screen lands in second with $19 million. A marketing campaign that featured a trailer that highlighted not only the collective beauty of its female stars including Aussie Emily Browning, High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens and The Adjustment Bureau’s Abbie Cornish, but also the music of Led Zeppelin, intrigued the fanboys and girls. Once again IMAX delivered additional visual as well as box office punch to the proceedings with $4.1 million in 229 domestic locations, and at 21% the giant screen company’s best 2-D percentage ever!
Check out our exclusive 'Sucker Punch'-themed comic strip from Francesco Marciuliano. Francesco writes the internationally-syndicated comic strip “Sally Forth” and the webcomic “Medium Large.” He was the head writer for the PBS series “SeeMore’s Playhouse,” for which one of his episodes won two 2007 Daytime Emmys. He currently writes for the Onion News Network.
America’s freshly appointed leading man Bradley Cooper took third place as Relativity Media’s Limitless earned $15.2 million this weekend against a uber-small 19% second weekend drop and a 10-day total of $41.3 million. A surprisingly strong debut last weekend that caught many off guard proves that Hangover favorite Cooper is a box office draw in his own right. Of course the presence of a terrific supporting cast including Robert De Niro and a solid marketing campaign did not hurt the film’s chances with audiences looking for a unique mind-bending thriller.
Lionsgate’s The Lincoln Lawyer had the strongest second weekend hold of any film on the chart realizing a mere 17% drop and a solid word-of-mouth driven $11 million. The Matthew McConaughey starring vehicle had performed well all through the mid-week and has earned $29 million in 10 days of release.
Paramount’s animated Rango, entered its fourth weekend with a lot of momentum having impressively secured a second place finish last weekend against a tiny 33% drop and a domestic gross that eclipsed $100 million this weekend. A fifth place finish of $9.8 million and a domestic total to date of $106.4 million proves that this is an animated film that remains a family favorite with kids and Johnny Depp fans alike.
This is the fifth consecutive down weekend at the box office with year ago comparisons giving us yet another sucker punch when How to Train Your Dragon had a $43.7 million debut and year-to-date revenue stood 8.90% ahead of 2009. Currently year-to-date revenues are running 19% behind last year at this point.
Weekend Box-Office Estimates
Top Movies - For Weekend of March 25, 2011 - Estimates
Movie Weekend Gross Total to Date
1 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (PG) $24.4M $24.4M
2 Sucker Punch (NR) $19.0M $19.0M
3 Limitless (PG-13) $15.2M $41.8M
4 The Lincoln Lawyer (R) $11.0M $29.1M
5 Rango (PG) $9.8M $106.4M
6 Battle: Los Angeles $7.6M $72.6M
7 Paul $7.5M $24.6M
8 Red Riding Hood $4.3M $32.5M
9 The Adjustment Bureau $4.2M $54.9M
10 Mars Needs Moms! $2.2M $19.1M