Valdosta Daily Times


March 18, 2014

‘Need for Speed’ needs a plot


VALDOSTA — Movie Review: Based on characters from Jay Ward’s animated television series, “Rocky & Friends” (1959), “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” features Mr. Peabody (Burrell), a super-intelligent canine, and his adopted human son, Sherman (Charles). They are time travelers via use of the Way-Back machine. After Sherman’s adversarial classmate, Penny Peterson (Winter), convinces him to see the Wayback, she puts in motion a set of events that will disrupt the fabric of time. Mr. Peabody and Sherman must act quickly before time unravels.  

“Mr. Peabody & Sherman” originates from the 1959 cartoon. The show was science fiction, involving time travel, where moments in history are the presentation via a dog and his human son. The moments were usually short episodes of genius and clever dialogue. This movie is very similar in that it follows the cartoon series in many ways. It also provides for smart humor and plenty of puns.

Directed by Rob Minkoff (“The Lion King,” 1994), this comical, animated piece has a nice story. However, writer Craig Wright convolutes the plot. The film tries to cram much into a small amount of time. Peabody, Sherman and their time machine are interesting enough with no need for diverting side notes. The end is especially, needlessly complicated.

Despite the extra clutter, plenty of entertainment is provided for family members of all ages. Director Minkoff and screenplay scripter Wright brings the old favorite to the big screen in a plausible manner. It works. Adventure, smart humor and history lessons provide just enough to make all intriguing.

Grade: B- (The way back to fun.)


“The Single Moms Club” (Drama/Comedy: 1 hour, 51 minutes)

Starring: Nia Long, Amy Smart, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Zulay Henao and Cocoa Brown

Director: Tyler Perry

Rated: PG-13 (Strong language, thematic elements and sensuality)

Movie Review: The title for this photoplay is disingenuous. It specifies a group of women who are single, but some are already heavily involved with men and others deeply involved with lovers. A better title would be “The Dating Moms Club.”

Of course, the film is about five women maintaining their families without partners. May (Long), Hillary (Smart), Jan (McLendon-Covey), Esperanza (Henao) and Lytia (Brown) are mothers facing difficulties. They manage their families after their children’s fathers have left them. Life is tough for the women. That all changes when they meet, ditch their differences and begin a Single Moms Club for support.  

Perry is a creative talent. He knows how to take a concept and make it marketable by channeling it to a certain audience, mainly women. He is good at this, but he suffers from the George Lucas syndrome. Perry, like Lucas, is a creative a genius but should not write or direct his own creations. At least, they should not direct screenplays.

As director and screenplay writer, Perry should know when to insert drama and when to have just a drama. This film bounces back and forth. Certain scenes are like comedy; others are serious dramatic moments. The two clash here. Perry forgets that comedy is not always necessary to make a story work. He sets up a nice drama but ruins it with second-rate humor.

“Club” hits all the right notes for tearful moments. This exists because the cast appears tangible and likable, although stereotypical personas. Conversely, the cast’s performances are under par. This is very noticeable during the beginning scenes.

Five women create a neat story, but it is executed poorly and in a rushed fashion. Plenty of drama is provided, but all appears too well planned regarding characters’ lives. Everything neatly falls into place like a fairy tale. This may make one feel good ultimately, but it is elementary writing.

Grade: C (Not many in this club.)

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