If a dog adopting a human child isn’t unique enough, this particular dog is quite the genius. He invented a machine which allows those inside it to travel through time to any point in history. The possibilities for adventure and misadventure are endless. My review of Mr. Peabody & Sherman after the jump.
Mr Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell) is not your average dog. He’s a scientist, a martial arts expert, a cook, a musician, an inventor and most importantly, a father. An orphan himself, Mr. Peabody adopted Sherman (after winning the right to in court) so that there would be one less child without a home in the world. Being the genius that he is, Mr Peabody wanted to give Sherman a very thorough education, so he created the WABAC, an incredible device which can transport those in it to any point in history. Instead of teaching Sherman history, Mr Peabody shows it to him. When Sherman starts school he gets on the wrong side of classmate Penny, when he outsmarts her in class. An altercation between them sees Sherman get into trouble and Mr Peabody come under investigation by child services. In an attempt to smooth things over, Mr Peabody invites Penny and her parents over for a ‘make nice’ dinner. All is going well until Sherman shows Penny the WABAC and they are both thrust into an epic, historical adventure.
I was a bit of a nerd at school and I have to say that the nerd in me really loved the time travel aspect of this film. Using the WABAC machine, the characters were able to visit Renaissance-era Florence and meet Leonardo da Vinci; encounter King Tutankhamun in Ancient Egypt ; and experience the beginning of the French Revolution in the Palace of Versailles. This was a really fun way to bring history into a film, without it being dry and dull. The characters interact with well-known historical figures, who are quite comical and silly at times. Seeing Agamemnon bare his hairy armpit and proclaim, “Smell my victory!”, was one of the small jokes which had me cackling.
The voice cast do a good job, with Ty Burrell (Modern Family) almost unrecognisable as the voice of Mr. Peabody. I particularly enjoyed Albert Brooks as Albert Einstein and Stephen Tobolowsky as the by-the-books Principal Purdy. Directed by Rob Minkoff (The Lion King), Mr. Peabody & Sherman has a cracking pace, as it whips through time to different historical events, never lingering long enough to lose your attention. It’s when the action comes back to the present time that the film lets itself down a little, losing steam and becoming quite convoluted in its attempt to bring together numerous characters from throughout the film for a spectacular ending. I must admit to losing interest in the drawn out final 20 minutes, and think a sharper, simpler ending would have been far more satisfying.
I was quite surprised by how much fun I had with Mr. Peabody & Sherman, with its barrage of puns, historical jokes and of course, toilet humour. While some of the historical references may go over the younger audience members heads, there is nothing scary or intimidating here. This is one of those rare family films which is both entertaining and appropriate for all ages.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Rob Minkoff
Writer(s): Craig Wright (screenplay), Jay Ward (based on the series produced by)
Starring the voices of: Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Stephen Colbert, Ariel Winter, Allison Janney
Runtime: 92 minutes
Release date(s): New Zealand & Australia: March 27 2013