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. 

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