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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The nominees for the 2013 Grammy Awards will be announced tonight for the first time in a flashy, live concert at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena hosted by Taylor Swift and LL Cool J that will feature performances by fun., The Band Perry, Maroon 5, Janelle Monae, The Who and others.
While previous years' Grammys have been dominated by a single powerhouse artist or album (I'm lookin' at you, Adele), this year it could be anyone's game. Will Billboard sensations Justin Bieber and Rihanna get nods, or will indie darlings like Frank Ocean, Mumford and Sons, and The Black Keys rule the night? I guess we just have to wait and see!
Check back at 10:00 PM ET as we reveal the nominees along with CBS' broadcast.
Best Pop Vocal Album
Kelly Clarkson, Stronger
Florence and The Machine, Ceremonials
fun., Some Nights
Maroon 5, Overexposed
Pink, The Truth About Love
Record of the Year
"Lonely Boy," The Black Keys
"Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)," Kelly Clarkson
"We are Young," fun. featuring Janelle Monae
"Somebody That I Used to Know," Gotye featuring Kimbra
"Thinkin Bout You," Frank Ocean
"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," Taylor Swift Best New Artist Alabama Shakes fun. Hunter Hayes The Lumineers Frank Ocean Country Solo Performance "Home," Dierks Bently "Springsteen," Eric Church "Cost of Livin," Ronnie Dunn "Wanted," Hunter Hayes "Over," Blake Shelton "Blown Away," Carrie Underwood Album of the Year El Camino, Black Keys Some Nights, fun. Babel, Mumford and Sons Channel Orange, Frank Ocean Blunderbuss, Jack White Song of the Year "The A Team" Ed Sheeran (songwriter: Ed Sheeran) "Call Me Maybe" Carly Rae Jepsen (songwriters: Tavish Crowe, Carly Rae Jepsen & Josh Ramsay) "Adorn" Miguel (songwriter: Miguel Pimentel) "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" Kelly Clarkson (songwriters: Jörgen Elofsson, David Gamson, Greg Kurstin & Ali Tamposi) "We Are Young" fun. featuring Janelle Monáe (songwriters: Jack Antonoff, Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dost & Nate Ruess) Best Pop Duo/Group Performance "Shake It Out" by Florence + The Machine "We Are Young" by fun. featuring Janelle Monáe "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra "Sexy And I Know It" by LMFAO "Payphone" by Maroon 5 & Wiz Khalifa Best Pop Solo Performance Adele, "Set Fire to the Rain (Live)" Kelly Clarkson, "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe" Katy Perry, "Wide Awake" Rihanna - "Where Have You Been" Best Dance Recording Avicii, "Levels" Calvin Harris feat. Ne-Yo,"Let's Go" Skrillex feat. Sirah, "Bangarang" Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin, "Don't You Worry Child" Al Walser, "I Can't Live Without You" Best Dance/Electronic Album Steve Aoki, Wonderland The Chemical Brothers, Don't Think deadmau5 Kaskade, Fire & Ice Skrillex, Bangarang Best Rock Performance Alabama Shakes,"Hold On" The Black Keys, "Lonely Boy" Coldplay, "Charlie Brown" Mumford & Sons, "I Will Wait" Bruce Springsteen, "We Take Care of Our Own" Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Anthrax, "I'm Alive" Halestorm, "Love Bites (So Do I)" Iron Maiden, "Blood Brothers" Lamb of God,"Ghost Walking" Marilyn Manson ,"No Reflection" Megadeth, "Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)" Best Rock Song Jack White, "Freedom at 21" Mumford & Sons, "I Will Wait" The Black Keys, "Lonely Boy" Muse, "Madness" Bruce Springsteen, "We Take Care of Our Own" Best Rock Album The Black Keys, El Camino Muse, The 2nd Law Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball Jack White, Blunderbuss Best Alternative Music Album Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do Bjork, Biophilia Gotye, Making Mirrors M83, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming Tom Waits, Bad As Me Best R&B Performance Estelle, "Thank You" Robert Glasper Experiment feat. Ledisi, "Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.) Luke James, "I Want You" Miguel, "Adorn" Usher, "Climax" Best Traditional R&B Performance Anita Baker, "Lately" Beyonce, "Love on Top" Melanie Fiona, "Wrong Side of a Love Song" Gregory Porter, "Real Good Hands" SWV, "If Only You Knew" Best Urban Contemporary Album Chris Brown, Fortune Miguel, Kaleidoscope Dream Frank Ocean, Channel Orange Best R&B Album Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio Anthony Hamilton, Back To Love R. Kelly, Write Me Back Tamia, Beautiful Surprise Tyrese, Open Invitation Best Rap Performance Drake feat. Lil' Wayne, "HYFR (Hell Ya F---ing Right)" Jay-Z & Kanye West, "N---as In Paris" Nas,"Daughters" Kanye West feat. Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz, "Mercy" Young Geezy feat. Jay-Z & Andre 3000, "I Do" Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Flo Rida feat. Sia, "Wild Ones" Jay-Z & Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean & The-Dream, "No Church in the Wild" John Legend feat. Ludacris, "Tonight (Best You Ever Had)" Nas feat. Amy Whinehouse, "Cherry Wine" Rihanna feat. Jay-Z, "Talk That Talk" Best Rap Song Nas, "Daughters" Wale feat. Miguel, "Lotus Flower Bomb" Kanye West Featuring Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz, "Mercy" Drake feat. Lil' Wayne, "The Motto" Jay-Z & Kanye West, "N---as In Paris" Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa Featuring Bruno Mars, "Young, Wild & Free" Best Rap Album Drake, Take Care Lupe Fiasco, Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1 The Roots, Undun Nas, Life Is Good Rick Ross, God Forgives, I Don't 2 Chainz, Based on a T.R.U. Story Best Country Song Carrie Underwood, "Blown Away" Ronnie Dunn, "Cost of Livin' " Eli Young Band, "Even If It Breaks Your Heart" Alan Jackson, "So You Don't Have to Love Me Anymore" Eric Church, "Springsteen" Best Americana Album The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter John Fullbright, From the Ground Up The Lumineers, The Lumineers Mumford & Sons, Babel Bonnie Raitt, Slipstream Best Blues Album Shemekia Copeland, 33 1/3 Dr. John, Locked Down Ruthie Foster, Let It Burn Heritage Blues Orchestra, And I Still Rise Joan Osborne, Bring It on Home Head to Grammy.comfor the nominees in all 81 categories! Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone [Photo Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images] More: Wait, Really? 12 Grammy Winners You Won't Believe American Music Awards Winners' List: Did Justin Bieber Best Rihanna For Top Honors? The 2012 MTV Video Music Awards Winners Are...
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Louis Leterrier’s remake of Clash of the Titans the 1981 cult favorite that fused Greek mythology with sci-fi theatrics is a grand experiment in the ancient art of alchemy a big-budget attempt to spin fanboy nostalgia for a 30-year-old novelty into contemporary box-office gold. The main ingredients in this ambitious concoction are a potent arsenal of CGI weaponry and the star of the biggest movie ever Sam Worthington who inherits Harry Hamlin’s role as the heroic Perseus. But it’s what’s missing from the formula that ultimately dooms this remake.
Clash of the Titans redux mimics the original film’s epic ethos and preference for spectacle over all else but its storyline differs dramatically. Perseus is still the half-breed product of a one-night stand between the god Zeus and a human hottie and he still must to defeat the monstrous Kraken in order to save the lovely Princess Andromeda. Almost everything in between however has been altered — and not necessarily for the better.
The new version casts the Greek city of Argos as the primary battleground in a proxy war fought by dueling Olympian superpowers Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes). Born of a god but raised by and partial to humans Worthington’s Perseus battles not for the hand of Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) — as Hamlin’s character did — but instead for the people of Argos who stand to perish along with their princess at the hands of the dreaded Kraken. The film’s love story if it can be called that consists of the briefest of flirtations between Perseus and Io (Gemma Arterton) his self-appointed spiritual guide. (Cursed with immortality by the gods Io’s been secretly watching him all his life — which ostensibly makes her a glorified stalker.)
This detail is a small but crucial one. Strong-willed Perseus braves an obstacle course of giant scorpions gorgons and other horrors laid out for him by the wheezy fiend Hades but it’s never quite clear why he bothers with it all since what’s at stake is a princess he isn’t particularly interested in and a community of people he doesn’t really know — and who frankly don’t seem all that worth saving. His deadbeat dad up on Mount Olympus certainly isn't worth dying for nor are the battlefield compatriots he met barely a week prior. And while I’m sure that a few inviting glances from Gemma Arterton are positively delightful I wouldn’t risk being doused in flesh-eating scorpion venom for them.
This narrative oversight triggers a drain in enthusiasm that persists throughout the film. For a movie so epic in scale Clash of the Titans makes for a disappointingly bland ride. Leterrier’s CGI set pieces are at times magnificent but they’re proffered in the service of weak story filled with characters whose motivations are either unclear or unconvincing. During the film’s climax when Neeson’s Zeus utters the portentous words “Release the Kraken ” what should be an emotional high point instead feels perfunctory and anticlimactic. The only excitement it spawns comes from the knowledge that the end is mercifully imminent.
In the tradition of a classic Disney-esque animated fairy tale The Tale of Despereaux based on the award winning children’s classic by Kate DiCamillo is about a mouse named Despereaux (Matthew Broderick) with Dumbo-sized ears and an oversized heart. His home the Kingdom of Dor was once a happy place but now due to unexpected events it has been shrouded by doom and gloom. Not for Despereaux! The fearless rodent doesn’t adhere to the usual mouse-like criteria but instead yearns for adventure especially after he starts reading fables from the castle library. He also bonds with Princess Pea (Emma Watson) who is sad and lonely her kingdom is in such disarray. Despereaux looks at her as a damsel in distress and wants to help. Unfortunately these are all serious no-nos in Mouseworld and so Despereaux is banished him to live in the dungeon with the evil Rats where he meets an agreeable rat Roscuro (Dustin Hoffman) who is also different from his kind. Roscuro wants to right some past wrongs but is spurned by the princess. Needless to say things do indeed go awry and Despereaux must summon all his courage and bravery to save the day. Some of the best ensemble casts in movies are being assembled for animated features these days and The Tale of Despereaux is a prime example. Broderick is ideal as the dignified and ultimately courageous little mouse. Hoffman -- in his second ‘toon turn of the year (Kung Fu Panda) -- proves again as the soup-loving Roscuro he has a real future as an animated character. Harry Potter’s Watson has the perfunctory English princess role but plays it with compassion while Tracey Ullman as maid-cum-wannabe princess Mig doesn’t go for the laughs but portrays Mig as a hopeful outcast looking for a fairy tale ending to her humdrum life. A whole set of other wonderful vocal talents in Despereaux include Kevin Kline Frank Langella Richard Jenkins Stanley Tucci William H. Macy Robbie Coltrane and Christopher Lloyd. And to top it off with just the right touch of whimsy is the lilting narration of Sigourney Weaver whose comforting voice will assure the youngest kids in the audience that things in Dor aren’t quite as dire as they appear. Co-directors Sam Fell and Rob Stevenhagen invest into this gorgeous-looking film all the care that went into the art of DiCamillo’s beautiful book. In fact unlike many other recent animated features Despereaux is distinctly old-fashioned despite all the CGI. The look of the movie is definitely inspired by older more traditional Disney-style fairy tale classics. Gary Ross’ (Seabiscuit) fine screenplay is reverential to the book and doesn’t back away from the darker aspects of the story which despite its G rating might be a little on the scary side for the very young ones. For everyone else The Tale of Despereaux is most likely this season’s must-see movie event for the entire family.