Mr. Peabody & Sherman | Rob Minkoff | March 7, 2014
Mr. Peabody & Sherman gives new life to the cartoon that appeared as segments of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show in the 1950s and early 1960s. Now in the year 2014 they get their own full-length animated film directed by Rob Minkoff, director of The Lion King and Stuart Little. Minkoff works off a script helmed by Craig Wright, featuring contributions from Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, and Michael McCullers.
Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell) is one of the most intelligent beings to have graced the earth. Only, being a genius dog that could speak scared away any potential owners from adopting him as a pup, leaving Mr. Peabody to fend for himself and become a true intellectual. He’s an expert in the arts, sciences, an expert chef, and a master of all instruments. There’s not much that he can’t do. The only thing that doesn’t come easy to him is parenting. He raises an orphaned child named Sherman (Max Charles) who he takes it as his own child. He mentors Sherman using a time machine that he invented, taking him back in time in order to give him first hand experience and lessons.
Sherman uses these skills to excel in school, to the dismay of his classmates, such as Penny Peterson (Ariel Winter). In class Penny insults Sherman about being raised by a dog , pushing him to the point where Sherman bites Penny in a rather fitting fit of rage. This causes a no-nonsense child services agent named Ms. Grunion (Allison Janney) to step in, threatening Mr. Peabody’s guardianship over Sherman unless Mr. Peabody can prove that his home and parenting is a proper fit for a child. Sherman tries to mend things by invited Penny’s parents (Stephen Colbert & Leslie Mann) over for dinner, but things take a turn for the worse when Sherman accidentally shows Penny their time machine, who is then sent to Ancient Egypt. The film soon takes us through some of the most historic events and places over time, as Mr. Peabody and Sherman try to find and Penny.
The soul of the film is the relationship between Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Mr. Peabody’s ability to be a parent is put into question by Ms. Grunion, but also by Mr. Peabody himself. He’s unable to return an “I Love you” to Sherman, and struggles with the concept of letting Sherman grow up. This all comes into play during their wacky journey, and although the effort was noble, it didn’t really connect with me as much as I hoped or thought it would.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is decent enough entertainment for kids, but is a somewhat unremarkable experience on the whole. It has its fair share of witty comedic moments, taking advantage and having fun with its time travel-themed plot. Yet it never wheeled me in with any sense of charm or uniqueness, playing it rather safe on the whole. It never found its proper footing, seemingly content with blending in with the rest of the animated crowd. It has some sharp animation and boasts a solid enough voice cast, but it never becomes more than a decent way to pass an hour and a half with the family.