Older cartoon adaptations have proved to be charming for kids and nostalgic for parents. While the kids may not understand everything that they’re seeing and hearing, the animation and humor keeps them invested. The adults, on the other hand, relive their childhood and make sure to catch the adult humor that’s hidden within the film. It’s usually a fun time for everyone and this film is certainly no exception.
In present day, the smartest person in the world is Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell), a talking Beagle who is more educated than even the most brilliant of humans. Mr. Peabody grew up with the desire to learn and has won every award possible and even created some of the best inventions (including the fist-bump). When he found a baby abandoned in an alley, he made it his mission to give this child a parent and raise him properly, just like the life Mr. Peabody never had. After winning in court, Mr. Peabody became father to Sherman (Max Charles) and taught him great historical lessons with his time machine, The Wayback Machine.
When Sherman starts school, he’s given an odd welcome by the students. There are those who enjoy his intellectual conversations and then there are those, like Penny (Ariel Winter), who bully him and call him a dog because his father is one. In response to Penny’s physical bullying, Sherman bites Penny and has the possibility to be removed from Mr. Peabody’s custody. In order to keep Sherman, Mr. Peabody invites Penny and her parents over (Stephen Colbert & Leslie Mann) for dinner and Sherman takes Penny in the WayBack to prove a point to her. When this action creates problems in the Space-Time Continuum, it’s up to Mr. Peabody to save the day before it’s too late.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman was a cartoon segment in the animated series, Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. The carton was part of a short called Peabody’s Improbable History and it focused on Mr. Peabody, the world’s smartest being/Beagle. Since its debut in late 50’s/early 60’s, Mr. Peabody has been teaching kids valuable lessons and lessons dealing in history. The show had a great message for kids and adults and that’s certainly carried over to this film. There are many great lessons to be had here, as well as jokes for younger, older, and more intelligent audiences. The film is a lot of fun and it’s got a lot of heart to it.
Ty Burrell, the lovable Phil Dunphy on Modern Family, plays a smart and sincere Peabody who is trying to be a great father to Sherman. Things get tough as Sherman grows up and Peabody realizes that he hasn’t given his son the most normal of lives. Burrell evokes great emotion in his voice and always acts and feels like a father, despite being an adoptive one (who also happens to be a dog). His life lessons are incredibly valuable, but he also learns to let his son experience things for himself and this helps him to grow as a parent too.
Max Charles plays a cute and curious Sherman, who never once questions his father. He loves Sherman and he loves his life, but he can’t help but fall victim to bullying because of his family situation. Sherman is brighter than most, but he can still behave like a child and wander off in wonderment when he time travels. He does disobey, but he learns valuable life lessons as well in his wrongdoings. He offers up a lot of laughs and a lot to enjoy, especially for the younger kids.
The humor in the film is perhaps one of the better aspects of it. While there are potty jokes for kids and silly events that transpire, there are also many jokes for the older, more intelligent minds. With such cameos involving Leonardo Da Vinci, George Washington, Albert Einstein, King Tut, and the warriors of Greece, there are many historical puns and quips that will make any who knows their history laugh. Of course there are the hidden, dirty jokes that DreamWorks loves and they also entertain. There is no shortage of laughter and good-will in this film and it’s certainly an enjoyable time.
My complaints with this film surround its bigger message, regarding the fact that anyone can be a good parent, no matter their circumstances. The film deals with the subject of adoption and having only one parent and it only addresses it in detail towards the end. The tension is all throughout the film, but I believe that the address the issue too late into the film. We get many lessons on manners and how to properly raise kids, but the message isn’t hammered in until you almost forget about it. The history lessons do drag a bit and we never get reasoning for Penny being such a terrible little girl. She’s so mean to Sherman and goes beyond bullying. She comes off as annoying and troublesome and she doesn’t improve much throughout the film. She’s the one character I could have done without.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a fine film that will do well enough to stick around for a while. It doesn’t have the same energy that other animated films have, but it’s more intelligent than most. This is definitely a film that you can go see and leave feeling great, but I’m not sure you’ll remember much about it in a few weeks. You’ll wonder why certain characters were so mean and why certain things didn’t happen. With all the opportunity that one could have with a Wayback Machine, you’d think that they could have done a little bit more with the film. Either way you look at it, this film is a fun time for the whole family and you’ll enjoy it in the moment.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman Trailer