Movie Review

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Movie Review: Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Published March 12, 2014 by mrsrag

Starring the voices of:  Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter, Allison Janney, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Patrick Warburton, Mel Brooks, Stanley Tucci.

Rated: PG.  Animated/Comedy.  Running Time: 1 hour 42 minutes.

Smart.  Witty.  Furry.  Mr. Peabody is one sharp pup and he lights up the screen in this wonderfully clever tale.  Peabody (Burell) is in jeopardy of losing custody of Sherman (Winter), his adopted human son.  And all because of a total misunderstanding on Sherman’s first day of school.  Well, because of the misunderstanding and also because he was being antagonized by a very mean classmate.  Up until now, Mr. Peabody and Sherman have been living a happy, healthy and quite interesting life together.  Peabody is an advanced canine who can speak – and he speaks quite eloquently.  He is an acclaimed scientist, a Nobel laureate, a gourmet chef, a musician, a business titan and an inventor.  But his favorite role is being a father to his pride and joy, his tiny ginger pal, Sherman.  His most prized invention is a time machine called the WABAC (pronounced “way back”).  He and Sherman time travel in the WABAC and learn all about history.  Peabody is wonderfully charming and he can usually weave his way through any hardship with sheer intelligence and swagger.  But he meets his match in Mrs. Grunion (Janney), the beastly woman from child services who seems Hell bent on taking Sherman away from Mr. Peabody.

Maria, and probably most of you reading this, have never seen the old cartoon version of Mr. Peabody and Sherman.  Part of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, I watched them when I was a little dude in the 70’s and I can attest that screenwriter Craig Wright has brought our heroes to the present day in style.  Mr. Peabody and Sherman followed a theme, pardon the pun, way back then; Sherman would get into mischief and Mr. Peabody would have to bail him out, and I’m happy to report they’ve stuck with what works.  Ty Burrell is terrific as the smartest canine in history (though I had wrongly guessed he was Hugh Laurie, a rare miss), and the Sherlock Holmes-esque scenes of Peabody showing us how he figures his way out of impossible situations in a split second, are pure genius.  If you’ve seen the Robert Downey Jr. versions of Holmes, you know what I mean.  The romp through time is hilarious and educational, the time spent with da Vinci is a personal favorite, but we also run into King Tut, Marie Antoinette, The Trojan Horse and Einstein among others.  The world has never seen anything like Mr. Peabody, now or in the past, and he has a positive effect on all he encounters.  My only concern is that he’s following (a bit too closely perhaps?) the megahit, The Lego Movie.  Hopefully, parents aren’t tapped out from the two or three trips they’ve had to take to the land of interlocking blocks. MPAS is too good though, word of mouth should easily help recoup it’s daunting $120,000,000 production cost.

The Lego Movie was certainly a hard act to follow, but this animated feature should do well.  It’s way too cute and endearing to be overlooked.  And the spruced up animation of yesteryear still echoes a familiarity to its roots, while adding some much needed flair and excitement.  I was extremely impressed with the 3-D effects, which is one of my biggest pet peeves with these animated films.  But MPAS put it to good use with scenes involving the time travelling and Mr. Peabody’s daily shenanigans.  I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, especially because it was smart and very well done.  It maintains its fun and hilarity, while providing some educational anecdotes.  And Mr. Peabody drops a lot of puns, which is one of our favorite sources of amusement.  Ethan had to ask us to explain a few of them, which only benefits his already impressive vocabulary.  I mean, the kid references Stockholm Syndrome.

Retooling old franchises is a Hollywood staple.  But for every Superman there is a Lone Ranger.  Every Batman a Green Hornet.  Every Scooby Doo a Flintstones.  I must admit when I heard about Mr. Peabody and Sherman, I was thinking “there’s a friggin’ train wreck ready to happen”, but it was very well done and I’m happy a whole new generation, or two, will enjoy the adventures through the WABAC machine.  I’m guessing it’s success will lead to a parade of more obscure characters from the 60’s and 70’s being resurrected.  Who might be next?  Snagglepuss.  “Exit, stage left.”   Tennessee Tuxedo and Chumley, the penguin and walrus team always trying to escape from the zoo?  Maybe Top Cat, that wisecracking, streetwise hustler?  Anybody but Woody Woodpecker, that guy always annoyed the shit out of me!     

Maria’s Rating: 3.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ Rating: 3.75 Gummies. 

Recent DVD Release: Last Vegas

Published February 6, 2014 by mrsrag

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen, Jerry Ferrara, Romany Malco.

Rated: PG-13.  Comedy. Running Time: 1 hour 45 minutes.

An A-list foursome of old codgers head to Vegas and rip it up.  Sounds like my last trip out there; just kidding.  Seriously though, I’m not quite as old as those boys but some of the themes hit pretty close to home.  Billy (Douglas) is getting married to a woman less than half his age, and he needs his three best friends to come to Vegas for his bachelor party.  Archie (Freeman), Sam (Kline) and Paddy (De Niro) come from New York, Jersey and Florida to complete the “Flatbush Four”.  They’ve known each other for fifty years and even though they’re thousands of miles apart, they’re as close as ever.  One problem, Paddy is seriously pissed at Billy for missing his wife’s funeral.  There is more to the story, but I’ll let you find that out for yourself.  The guys quickly meet an interesting lounge singer of a certain age, Diana (Steenburgen); and make an impression in the casino, which leads to a comped suite.  Things move at a fast pace in Last Vegas, and you get the feeling the guys can hear their clocks ticking down.  The prostate jokes, references to small strokes and oodles of prescription meds are flying around, but the chemistry between these four legends is smooth as silk, and they really feel like lifelong buddies.

When I first saw the previews for Last Vegas I thought, “It’s ‘The Hangover’, geriatric style.”  Which it kind of is.  But I love these four guys and they keep it entertaining.  They can laugh at themselves and they genuinely seem like they’re having a good time doing it.  The four friends embark on this spontaneous trip, each hoping that it will breathe new life into their progressively mundane lives.  Kline is suffering through water aerobics classes at his Florida community.  Freeman is being treated like a big child, nearly imprisoned in his son’s Jersey home.  DeNiro is a grieving widower and he spends his days sitting around his apartment in a bathrobe and refusing soup from a concerned neighbor.  Douglas appears to be the only one of the ‘Flatbush Four’ with blood coursing through his veins.  He’s got a beautiful young lady on his arm and a successful business.  But he’s still unsatisfied.  He’s faced with his own mortality at a close friend’s funeral and pops the question to his ‘child bride’, as they so often refer to her.

We can certainly relate to the Douglas’ story line as Maria and I are getting married in August and we have a fairly significant difference in age.  Unlike these relationship stereotypes, which are clearly on display here, I am not rich and Maria is not an empty-headed bimbo.  I am also not quite ready for the nursing home, but can clearly relate with the guys facing down their own mortality and fears of not being able to live life to it’s fullest.  Beyond all of what appears to be morbid subject matter, Last Vegas is an enjoyable watch.  As I mentioned the action is fast paced, the laughs are plentiful and there are some decent supporting roles.  Steenburgen is sultry, and surprisingly can carry a decent tune, as the lounge singer/possible love interest.  Romany Malco (from 40-Year Old Virgin) is great as the guys’ reluctant at first concierge, he was supposed to be handling 50 cent for the weekend.  And Jerry Ferrara is very Turtle-like (his role in the HBO series Entourage) as Dean, a cocky bar rat who gets knocked down a peg or two and becomes the Flatbush Four’s personal boy Friday.  Certainly not going to be a cinematic classic, but I saw enough to hope they have at least one sequel in them.  One final note, keep an eye out for the scene where Morgan Freeman’s character has one too many Red Bull vodkas.  We’ve all seen, or been, that guy before.  “It’s like being drunk and electrocuted all at the same time!” 

Freeman was the highlight for me.  He provided the best laughs and was my personal favorite character.  The bar scene Ross is referring to is literally the best five minutes of the whole movie.  But there’s a few more laugh out loud moments.  The ‘child bride’ storyline is formulaic and the age difference is much more substantial in this plot than our real life relationship.  The young woman is always portrayed as a money grubbing, ditzy bimbo.  And honestly, I can’t blame them for this.  I’ve seen that stereotype played out in real life.  Fortunately, it does not at all reflect our story.  I think I would have played my hand a bit better if that was my mission.  Firstly, I’d get some filthy rich Palm Beach resident.  I’d have my eye on someone with more money than God.  And secondly, he’d be attached to some oxygen and rapidly approaching his expiration date.  What does this look like, amateur hour?  Last Vegas turned out to be a pleasant surprise.  These four seasoned actors don’t take themselves too seriously in the film and that translates on screen.  It was most certainly a better choice than watching ‘The Hangover 3″.

Ross’ Rating: 3.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 3.5 Gummies.