Tag Archive | "PBIFF"

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FLICKS: Frantz opens, Savor Cinema/ Cinema Paradiso news & PBIFF opens this weekend

Posted on 30 March 2017 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


As Kong: Skull Island and Beauty & the Beast blow up box office records for March, there are still quiet, artistic movies that are being released on the big screen this weekend. From acclaimed French Director Francois Ozon (Swimming Pool, Potiche) comes Frantz, a film with a touch of Daphne du Maurier’s literary classic Rebecca.

Set in Germany during the post World War I era, Anna (Paula Beer) grieves over the loss of her fiance, Frantz. After a visit to the graveside, Anna witnesses Adrien (Pierre Ninney), a French war veteran, put flowers on the marker.

Despite the cultural divide from the Armistice of World War I, Anna and Adrien communicate with each other. Each individual talks about their experiences knowing Frantz, an artistic soul who died in the muddy trenches. At times this relationship evolution is beautiful, but the horrors of war reveal dark secrets of human nature.

Frantz is presented in grim black and white cinematography that also echoes Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s version of Rebecca. Yet Ozon takes advantage of modern technology to include color cinematography for moments of beauty and grace. Given that Frantz is a study of grief, this film becomes life-affirming despite the tragedies on faces in life.

Cinema Paradiso Hollywood and Savor Cinema are among the two cinemas that will be screening Frantz. Homes to the annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, these movie theaters will feature unique programming for the spring season. On Saturday May 6, Savor Cinema will be hosting the running of the 143rd Kentucky Derby, which includes a live band, food prizes and a ladies bonnet contest.

For those pursuing cinema pursuits closer to home, the Palm Beach International Film Festival continues through April 2. Cinemark Theaters in Boca Raton will be one of the host sites. Dr. Oz will be in town, with his daughter Arabella Oz, to promote her new movie. [Michael Lohan will also make an appearance showing the movie The Business of Recovery]. The Tilted Kilt will feature after screening parties next to Cinemark Theater. For screen times, it is best to visit the website www.pbifilmfest.org.

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FLICKS: I Saw the Light, PBiFF closes

Posted on 14 April 2016 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave


The Palm Beach International Film Festival (PBiFF) concludes this evening at the Cinemark 20 Palace in Boca Raton with the screening of Silver Skies, a film which premiered in South Florida six months ago at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. As a member of the ensemble cast, Florida’s suntanned ambassador George Hamilton appeared at the screening.

Having played Hank Williams in the MGM production of Your Cheatin’ Heart in 1964, I asked Hamilton that night about the buzz related to Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of the Alabama Legend in the now-released biopic I Saw the Light. Hamilton was very complimentary to Hiddleston and said, “This will be a different film. Being an independent film, they will be able to show things that we were unable to show with a big studio.”

To the producer’s credit, the new Hank Williams film does not get as down and dirty as it could in retelling the life of this country music legend. During the opening credits, the immaculately dressed Hank Williams sings a signature tune, as if he were giving a concert from heaven.

The film flashes back to 1944 when Hank is married to Audrey (Elizabeth Olsen) by a justice of the peace in a gas station on a rainy night. The next scene features him in a performance that is interrupted by a jealous husband, upset with Hank’s song lyrics. These two abutted scenes best describe the final nine years of Hank Williams’ rollercoaster life.

With the deaths of John Belushi, Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse we’ve all witnessed the tragedy of talented artists slain by personal demons.

Hank Williams was no exception. Given his medical ailment (Spina bifida), professional demands (touring 11 months of the year) and shattered domestic life (Audrey’s singing ambition marred by a total lack of talent), a sensitive man like Williams was doomed to fail.

The saying goes, “country music is three chords and the truth.” British Actor Tom Hiddleston’s performance serves this country music principle. The womanizing charm and alcoholic despair is given a unique vulnerability by Hiddleston’s dignified performance. He is matched every step in the way by Olsen’s balanced performance as Audrey, who is part lover, part shrew.

George Hamilton’s You’re Cheatin’ Heart was produced with Audrey Williams’ supervision. I Saw the Light is based on the book, Hank Williams: The Biography by Colin Escott, George Merritt and William (Bill) MacEwen in an effort to cite objective sources.

While Hank Williams III (the singer’s grandson) has denounced the film and Hiddleston’s performance, I Saw the Light provides a fine introduction to music that has stood the test of nearly seven decades.

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Batman v. Superman, PBiFF opens & Cinema Dave to speak after The Searchers

Posted on 07 April 2016 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave


Tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Cinema Paradiso courtyard [503 SE 6 St., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301], Cinema Dave will attend the screening of John Ford’s masterpiece, The Searchers, starring John Wayne, and give a post-film discussion.

Acclaimed by the American Film Institute, this film inspired modern film titans like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino. Beyond breathtaking visuals and a compelling story, The Searchers is an American treasure that has withstood the test of time.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Despite the phenomenal box office, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will not stand the test of time. While not hating the movie as much as mainstream critics, viewers of Batman v. Superman are not as exuberant leaving the big screen as they were leaving Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Miracles from Heaven.

A direct sequel to Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice deals with the destruction created by the invaders from Superman’s home planet. Billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) lost employees who were collateral damage when General Zod (Michael Shannon) and Superman (Henry Cavill) flew through the Wayne Enterprise Building.

In the guise of his secret identity — intrepid reporter Clark Kent — Superman is concerned about the vigilante behavior of this Batman, Bruce Wayne’s covert identity. Lurking in the passive-aggressive background like a Siamese fighting fish is Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg), whose jealousy of Bruce Wayne and Superman plants the seeds for more mutual destruction.

Batman v Superman has some golden character moments portrayed by a strong supporting cast, most notably Diane Lane, the adorable Amy Adams, Larry Fishburne and Kevin Costner. The big letdown in this film is the showdown between the Dark Night and the Man of Steel.

The emotional connection one feels earlier in the film is lost amid the overblown special effects, which might have looked great on a giant IMAX screen. When released on DVD, Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice’s dullness will abound due to distracting technical flaws.

PBiFF opens

The Palm Beach International Film Festival opened last night. It has films in venues from Palm Beach Gardens to Boca Raton’s Cinemark Palace. The Cinemark Palace will close PBiFF with Silver Skies, a George Hamilton comedy that premiered at last year’s FLiFF.

Check out Ovation, which will be screened on Friday, April 8 and Wednesday, April 13. Directed by Henry Jaglom, Ovation is a romantic comedy about a stage actress who falls for a television star.

For information, visit the PBiFF website, www.pbifilmfest.org.


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FLICKS: X+Y, The Record Man, Walking Man, Hidden Assets & The Lost Key

Posted on 02 April 2015 by LeslieM

PBiFF2015Ellar Coltane and Randi Emerman Axler (2)By Dave Montalbano


The April zeitgeist known as the Palm Beach International Film Festival (PBIFF) wraps up tonight at Boca Raton Cinemark Palace 20 with While We’re Young, starring Amanda Seyfried, Naomi Watts, Ben Stiller, Adam Driver and Charles Grodin.

The final party will be at Yoko-San Restaurant, 99 SE Mizner Blvd, Boca Raton.

When The Observer started covering PBIFF in 2003, young Ellar Coltrane was just beginning work on his 2014 movie Boyhood [which received an Oscar for actress Patricia Arquette]. After a whirlwind of promotion,[including picking up a Shooting Star award at PBIFF], this fine young gentleman will be returning to Texas as he makes plans to attend college in New England.

Directed by FSU alumnus Mark Moorman, The Record Man provides nostalgia for people who grew up in South Florida during the 1970s. With George McCrae receiving the key to the city of West Palm Beach, the sold-out audience responded with religious fervor, including singing along with Steve Alaimo, KC and the Sunshine band.

2006 PBIFF voluntePBiFF2015 Mr and Mrs George McCrae (2)er Mitchell Egber produced The Record Man and organized the music for the gala event Saturday Night at the home of Marty & Joyce Kobak. Besides hob knobbing with guests like Connie Francis and Tom Arnold, the party featured live performances by George McCrae, Jimmy “Bo” Horne, Charlotte McKinnon and the Derek Mack Band.

While celebrities and parties draw attention, the purpose of a good film festival is to feature the work of independent filmmakers. Asa Butterfield stars as mathematical genius with poor social skills in X + Y, a British drama with much dry humor. Although laced with profanity, this is a family film shot in Great Britain and Asia. It is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year for its logical unpredictability.

Josh Salzberg brought his documentary Walking Man to town, a father/son road movie about suicide prevention. With echoes of the Reese Witherspoon movie Wild, Salzberg brings a raw authenticity about healing by a cross country walk through the state of Missouri.

Word-of-mouth has been strong for the Alfred Hitchcock inspired Hidden Assets, directed by local actress Jacqueline Journey.

The Lost Key has inspired discussions about the meaning of intimacy.

It’s sad that we have to wait another year for such an intimate festival … PBIFF.

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FLICKS: Queen and Country, PBiFF begins & Dan Aykroyd

Posted on 26 March 2015 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


Five-time Oscar bridesmaid, but never a bride, director John Boorman, has created indelible images on the big movie screen. He directed Lee Marvin in two savage movies, most notably Point Blank, which featured an all-star ensemble cast. Through the years, his visual acuity created both beautiful and nightmarish imagery in Deliverance, Excalibur and The Emerald Forest.

Released 28 years ago, Hope and Glory was his semi-autobiographic tale about his British childhood during the World War II blitzkrieg. Opening tomorrow is Queen and Country, which continues the adventures of Bill Rohan (Boorman’s alter ego) during the Korean War. While war is background theme to both movies, there is much humor in these films which present a character’s rite of passage. Queen and Country is Boorman’s big screen swan song, so expect an appropriate “goodbye” from a master craftsman.

The 20th Palm Beach International Film Festival (PBiFF) opens tonight with a red carpet screening of Welcome to Me at the Muvico Parisian 20 & IMAX at City Place in West Palm Beach. Saturday Night Live alumus Kristen Wiig (currently queen of independent film production) stars as a narcissist who suffers from a comical nervous breakdown. The cast includes Joan Cusack, Linda Cardellini, Tim Robbins and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

The Lost Key will be part of PBiFF’s “Jewish Experience,” which features an assortment of 35 international films from Germany, Hungary, France, Cuba and Bulgaria. Bulgarian Rhapsody is the country’s recent representative of the Oscar race. Israeli actor Udi Persi from 10% My Child will be spending the week in Palm Beach County.

If history is a good indicator, this year’s PBiFF should be a lot of fun with many surprise guests and memorable experiences. With the grand finale being held at the Cinemark Palace in Boca Raton, there is no excuse to miss! For further updates and information, please visit www.pbifilmfest.org.

Promoting his Crystal Head Vodka, Dan Aykroyd blew into town [March 20] as an energetic juggernaut. At ABC Liquors in Sunrise, Aykroyd was a human autograph machine as he signed vodka bottles, Ghostbusters and Blues Brothers memorabilia.

Blues History was made at Stache in Ft. Lauderdale when Aykroyd reunited on stage with South Florida resident and Blues Brother Matt “Guitar” Murphy for a mini reunion concert. The night was emotional and definitely defined the spirit of the Blues.

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FLICKS: 3 Hearts, Cinderella and PbiFF

Posted on 19 March 2015 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


After screening at the 32nd Miami International Film Festival, 3 Hearts opens in limited South Florida release tomorrow. Marc (Benoît Poelvoorde) misses his train, but finds comfort with Sylvie (Charlotte Gainsbourg). After an intense experience, the two part ways. Marc settles in and develops a deeper relationship with Sophie (Chiara Mastroianni) with plans to marry. When meeting his future in-laws, including matriarch (Catherine Deneuve), Marc discovers that Sylvie and Sophie are sisters.

Nominated for numerous awards at the Venice and Lumiere Film Festivals, 3 Hearts is a French Film with English subtitles and features the plot device of a romantic triangle. With the cinematic legacy of Charlotte Gainsbourg and Catherine Deneuve, this film reveals that French storytelling is consistently modern.

It was French scholar Charles Perrault who penned European folk tales and crafted what we now know as the fairy tale Cinderella a.k.a. The Glass Slipper. As recent box office figures have revealed, this tale of love, romance and service has struck a chord with modern audiences.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet, Thor), the audience retraces the narrative about how Ella (Lily James) became “Cinderella.” We meet her adorable parents (Ben Chaplin and Hayley Atwell, who was in Agent Carter) who teach their daughter that it is important to have the “courage to be kind.”

These life lessons go into effect when Ella’s parents die. A wicked stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her sinister sisters (Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger) have Ella clean the furnace and she gets covered with “Cinders.” Considered “too dirty” to attend the Prince’s ball, Ella meets her Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) who gives the heroine a makeover. By now, one should figure out the rest of the plot.

Cinderella deserves its success. Kenneth Branagh makes the sugary romance palatable, the characters are not overblown and the actors ensemble chooses restraint. This film can best be summed up in one scene – Ella’s “walk of shame” — because it is a beautiful moment due to the heroine’s pure motives.

Next week, the Palm Beach International Film Festival (PBiFF) celebrates 20 years with appearances from Tom Arnold, Ellar Coltrane and others, and music provided by TK Records, who has a South Florida connection with K.C. and the Sunshine Band. At this international festival, keep an eye out for The Lost Key, a Spanish documentary about a Rabbi who talks about intimacy, lust and love.


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FLICKS: PBIFF, openings of Joe & German Doctor

Posted on 17 April 2014 by LeslieM

Pages 09-16By Dave Montalbano


For veterans working on their second decade covering the 19th Annual Palm Beach International Film Festival (PBIFF), there was a positive vibe this year. While not quite the glory days when Louise Fletcher, Robert Davi and Malcolm McDowell visited, there was a sense that those glory days are on the horizon. It also helped that they showcased some fine films.

Life Inside and Out took the Best Feature Film award. It is a domestic drama written by Maggie Bird. Bird also co-stars with her son Finneas O’Connor, who play the fictional mother and sullen son. Both Bird and O’Connor were in attendance for the closing ceremony at the Cinemark last Thursday night.

The best documentary went to Faberge: A Life of its Own. Created during the times of the Russian Tsars, these “Easter Eggs” tell a fascinating story involving international intrigue. The film also documents the commercial opportunities that these golden eggs created.

Lion Ark took the Best Documentary Audience Award, a film that screened at last year’s Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival. This film, about saving lions from circuses in Bolivia, features a triumphant conclusion after much danger and politics.

On the box office horizon, Nicholas Cage is making a critical return with Joe. Unlike the action hero roles that have paid his bills for the past two decades, Cage returns to a complex role that he used to be known for. Joe is an ex-convict with a bad attitude, who is given a chance for salvation when he meets a bullied boy in the south.

In two weeks, The German Doctor opens at area art house movie theaters. Winner of nine Sur Awards (Argentine’s Oscar), this film is about a doctor who befriends a family in Argentina. Unknown to the family, this doctor is actually a dangerous criminal who is being pursued by Israeli agents.

It has been 10 years since The Passion of Christ broke box office records for best foreign language film (a box office record that still stands). Since then, director Mel Gibson’s career has floundered but the film did tap a marketplace that had been ignored by Hollywood executives,– ticket-buying Christians. This week’s box office results will prove to be an interesting commentary for Easter Sunday.

Happy Easter!

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FLICKS: PBIFF & Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age

Posted on 10 April 2014 by LeslieM

Pages 09-16By Dave Montalbano


The announcement that Mickey Rooney passed away last Sunday showcases the cultural impact of the Palm Beach International Film Festival (PBIFF) to our local community. Rooney was honored at the 2008 PBIFF and his career represents the golden age of Hollywood. From the Andy Hardy and My Friend Flicka movies to the original Night at the Museum and The Muppets, Rooney’s name is known by young and old.

This year, Rick McKay’s Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age, was shown and he was honored with a Visionary Award. Eleven years ago, McKay screened his work-in-progress, Broadway: The Golden Age, at the fest. With Fay Wray as his trusty consort, McKay earned his first festival award then. That film is on regular rotation on PBS fundraising drives.

Broadway: The Golden Age is a great documentary that should be shown in all performing arts schools, for the people who were interviewed are now considered legends of the Great White Way, including Marlon Brando, Ethel Merman and Kim Hunter. With his nonfussy camera work creating an intimate experience between subject and interviewer, McKay conducted some great interviews with Bea Arthur, Carol Burnett and Gwen Verdon. This film reminded us about forgotten heroes like John Raitt, who was the original voice in the first Rogers & Hammerstein musicals. Raitt is best known today as Bonnie Raitt’s daddy.

Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age covers the next generation of Broadway. It is the late seventies and mid eighties, a dark time on the Great White Way. Theaters are closing and buildings are going into disrepair. In these days of economic malaise, performers either bond or find new careers in film or television.

Meet Bob Fosse. With an Oscar for his direction of Cabaret and an Emmy for the television special Liza with a Z, Fosse went on to garner the Tony Award for Pippin, which made Ben Vereen a star and featured Irene Ryan’s (Beverly Hillbillies’ granny) last performance. Pippin was not a success, but Fosse decided to think out of the box and directed his own television commercial featuring 30 seconds of the show. At the end of the commercial, the announcer said, “If you want to see the rest of the … show, come to the Mayfair Theater on Broadway.” The rest is legend.

Robert Morse (who was also honored at PBIFF with a Lifetime Achievement Award Monday night), Robert Redford, Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera share some great backstage stories about productions that succeed and opening nights that bombed. The cast of Ain’t Misbehavin’ share stories about racism and hailing a taxi that become comedic in their absurdity. Of course, the only way to end Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age is with a grand finalé. The story about the longevity of A Chorus Line certainly qualifies as a graceful exit.

PBIFF is also about the future. Tonight, the closing night of the fest, Jason Priestly (known for Beverly Hills 90210) makes his directorial debut at the Cinemark Palace in Boca Raton with Cas & Dylan, showing at 7 p.m. (www.pbifilmfest.org).

Last but not least, kudos to Jeremy Emerman, Deerfield Beach High School graduate and son of Randi Emerman PBIFF president and CEO. That teenager who I used to work the red carpet with a decade ago, has become the camera man for some of the biggest blockbusters of recent history, including The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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FLICKS: Captain America: The Winter Soldier & PBIFF

Posted on 03 April 2014 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


After three Iron Men, two Thors and one Avenger, Captain America gets his first stand alone sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It is the best sequel from “Phase I” of the Marvel movie series. Next year, at this time, we will be bombarded with Avengers: The Age of Ultron media hype to kick off “Phase II” of the Marvel Movie series. Is all this exposition necessary to know before viewing Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Not one bit.

The brilliance of these Marvel superhero movies is that each film works as a stand-alone feature, each story is complete within itself. This film is a political thriller along the lines of 1970s paranoid thrillers like Three Days of the Condor, The Conversation and The Parallax View, Unlike those 1970s classics that feature losers portrayed by the likes of Robert Redford, Gene Hackman and Warren Beatty, respectfully, this film presents a hero with values personified by the likes of John Wayne.

Captain America, alias Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is adapting to the 21st Century after saving the world (Avengers) and waking up from a 70 year hibernation (Captain America: The First Avenger). Joining forces with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo), Rogers rescue some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents from pirates. During the rescue operation, Captain America uncovers secrets kept hidden by Black Widow and their boss, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

When Captain America confronts Nick Fury, Fury confronts one of his bosses – Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), a member of the S.H.I.E.L.D Security Council. Through the chain of communication, security becomes breached and explosive chaos ensues. As Steve Rogers attempts figure out who is an ally and who is an enemy, the Winter Soldier is called upon to eliminate Captain America.

This is a good movie. The story unfolds in a logical way and the character development seems real. The friendship that develops between Captain America and the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) is respectful and genuine. The action scenes have visual clarity that improve with each conflict. Yet, it is the humble character of Captain America that gives this big budget motion picture its soul.

For popcorn eating Saturday matinee fun, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the film to go see. This new Marvel film is first best movie of 2014.

For those who prefer more grounded cinema, the 19th Annual Palm Beach International Film Festival (PBIFF) opens this weekend with special screenings at the Cinemark Palace in Boca Raton. Robert Morse, Rick McKay and Jason Priestly will be among those flying into town. Check out this website for events and times: www.pbifilmfest.org.

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FLICKS: PBIFF (April 3-10) & Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Posted on 27 March 2014 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


It is time to start planning The 19th Annual Palm Beach International Film Festival (PBIFF), which opens in two weeks. This year, there will be an emphasis in South Palm Beach County with the opening, centerpiece and closing movies screened in the Cinemark Palace 20 in Boca Raton.

Belle opens the fest, an English drama about royal racism. Belle (Gugu Mbatha- Raw) is the illegitimate daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral. Raised with privilege by her uncle, Lord Mansfield, Belle finds certain doors closed to her because of the color of her skin. The cast includes two Harry Potter veterans (Emma Watson, Tom Felton) and Tom Wilkinson.

A decade ago, Rick McKay debuted Broadway the Golden Age, which features Broadway legends like Kim Hunter, Marlon Brando and Gwen Verdon. This year, he returns with Broadway Beyond the Golden Age, which emphasizes the second generation of Broadway productions featuring controversial musicals like Hair and Oh Calcutta! The star of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Robert Morse, is scheduled to attend and receive an award on Monday, April 7 at Cinemark Palace 20. There will be a party at Bogart’s Bar & Grille on the second floor.

Twenty years ago, Jason Priestly was a target for the paparazzi for his work on the television show Beverly Hills 90210. He has quietly slipped behind the camera and has directed Cas & Dylan, a road movie which stars Richard Dreyfus, Tatiana Maslany and Jayne Eastwood, which will be PBIFF’s final film. Priesly will be in attendance.

The festival also places an emphasis upon independent features. Fat, Dumb and Happy is a comedy/drama filmed in Orlando. The Other One is a domestic drama about a child’s responsibility to an aging parent. A visual effects intern for The Walking Dead, Vicki Lau, debuts The Painter, a short subject about an artist with a magical paintbrush. Lion Ark is a documentary about activists saving lions from a brutal existence at Bolivian circuses. Given that April is Autism Awareness Month, PBIFF will be presenting A Teen’s Guide to Understanding and Communicating with People with Autism, with director/ writer and High School Freshman Alexandra Jackman scheduled to attend the Lake Worth screening. For late breaking news, visit the website www.pbifilmfest.org.

Last, but not least Mr. Peabody & Sherman has quietly earned 83 million dollars in a fortnight. With sophisticated scatological humor, grievous puns and a dose of Twisted history and drama, this film is an animated feature with much heart. Parents taking their upper-aged elementary school children will enjoy a good time at a Saturday matinee price.

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