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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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
Pitt eggs paparazzi on
Hollywood heart-throb Brad Pitt reportedly snapped at a group of paparazzi encamped outside his Beverley Hills home in Los Angeles--and bombarded them with eggs. Six carloads of photographers managed to spark rage in the Troy actor, who's currently the center of attention following his split with wife Jennifer Aniston last week after four years of marriage. The infuriated actor was so appalled at the sight of the intrusive photographers, he began launching eggs at them--catching one paparazzo on the side of the face, reports the BBC.
Fawcett and O'Neal will marry on TV
Reconciled superstar couple Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal will marry on a reality television show. The pair ended their 17-year relationship in 1997--but have been dating for the past year. And they now want to marry for the first time, with footage of the ceremony appearing on Fawcett's new show Chasing Farrah, which airs Jan. 19, according to the New York Daily News. It's been claimed the pair--who have a 21-year-old son--reconciled over O'Neal's battle with leukemia. O'Neal has previously been married twice. Fawcett has also walked down the aisle once before.
Kidman: 'I wish I loved women'
Nicole Kidman often wishes she were a lesbian, because she's convinced life would be more simple if she found women attractive. However, the Oscar-winning actress--who divorced Tom Cruise in 2001--concedes she is "hooked" on men. Kidman says, "It would be far easier to go, 'Oh, I wish I loved women!' But I don't. I mean, I love them, but physically, they just don't do it for me. I love the way a man thinks. I love the way a man smells. I love the way men look... I'm hooked on the male physique - hooked on it!"
Stamos' brief new love
Actor John Stamos has found new love following his split from wife Rebecca Romijn-Stamos--but friends don't expect it to last. A year after the couple separated, Stamos has begun dating socialite Charlotte Freund. But pals insist Stamos shouldn't get excited about any longterm relationship--because the "It girl" still hasn't got over former beau Todd Meister, who himself recently split from wife Nicky Hilton. A source tells Pagesix.com, "Charlotte is moving to Paris. She is only 20. Todd broke her heart and she has never gotten over him." Last month, Stamos complained he would "be really happy to be in love again" but has struggled to move on following his split from Romijn-Stamos, because he is "not good" at dating.
Troyer accepts he was married
Austin Powers star Verne Troyer is set to officially recognize his 30-day marriage to leggy yoga teacher Genevieve Gallen--in order to get her out of his life. Gallen sued the tiny actor last year after he denied he was legally wed to her. The two have been locked in a bitter dispute, while Gallen allegedly hoped for a reconciliation. But now legal show Celebrity Justice has learned the two are close to reaching a settlement, which would entail a divorce. Sources claim Troyer will now acknowledge he and Gallen were married and agree to a divorce.
Carradine weds for a fifth time
Kill Bill star David Carradine is hoping five is his lucky number after he welcomed in the New Year by marrying for the fifth time. The 68-year-old movie star exchanged vows with mother-of-four Annie Berman in a low-key beach ceremony late last month. Carradine's lawyer Vicki Roberts, who served as a Justice of the Peace to authenticate the vows, says, "I asked each of Annie's four kids if they'd take David to be their new daddy and protector and they did." The Carradines first public outing will come this Sunday when they attend the Golden Globe Awards, where Carradine is nominated for a best supporting actor prize.
Johansson's tonsil fears
Scarlett Johansson fears her tonsils are set to be sold on internet auction site eBay--because nurses wouldn't let her see them once they'd been removed. The actress thought she'd be able to take her tonsils home with her after undergoing a hellish operation late last year, but wasn't even allowed to look at them. She says, "I didn't realize how huge they were--they were over an inch in length and almost an inch in width. They were huge and they don't let you see them afterwards, which I was thought was lame. I've been with the bastards for 20 years and I expected to see what they look like. (The nurse) looked very strange when she told me I couldn't have them and I'm afraid they're on eBay right now."
Happy Days stars reunite
The cast members of classic comedy Happy Days are reuniting for a 30th anniversary TV reunion. Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, Tom Bosley, Marion Ross, Scott Baio, Erin Moran, Don Most and Anson Williams will gather for ABC's Happy Days 30th Anniversary Reunion, which will air in the U.S. on Feb. 3. The special will feature bloopers and recollections--as well as an unseen clip of Fonzie, played by Winkler, kissing Ross' Mrs. Cunningham.
Trump to launch Apprentice-inspired Caribbean cruise
Property tycoon Donald Trump is using the success of his reality TV show The Apprentice to lure sun seekers onto his Caribbean cruise. The boat trip, which will begin in New York City on Sept. 26 after a send-off party hosted by Trump, will last for eight days and feature past contestants from the show. The vessel will be the Carnival cruise line's 1,062-cabin The Legend, which will be renamed the Trump World Legend for the week. Onboard, passengers will be able to take part in team-based tasks similar to those carried out by contenders on The Apprentice. There will also be a golf tournament on the island of St Thomas. One lucky winner will win a prize to spend a day as boss of the travel website Expedia.com, which is the commercial sponsor of the voyage. The CEO-for-a-day will receive a $15,000 paycheck, first-class airfare to New York and ground transportation by limo, plus a stay in a five-star hotel. Fares start at $1,199 per person.
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