Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Azu At The Movies # 3: Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Release Date: March 7, 2014
Runtime: 92 Minutes
Director: Rob Minkoff
Production Company: DreamWorks Animation
Tagline: The Dogfather of all comedies!

If you ever seen or heard of Rocky and Bullwinkle, then chances are you've probably heard of Peabody's Improbable History. For those who haven't, I'll give you the skinny. The show was about the world's smartest dog named Mr. Peabody who adopts a boy named Sherman. They travel to various time periods using a machine called the WABAC and from there, they have all sorts of wacky historical adventures. Looking back at it nowadays, it seems a little dated in the historical department but if you look past that, the show is still entertaining with witty humor and fun characters. When I heard that a movie adaptation of this cartoon was being made, I didn't have much of an opinion on it. This is until I saw the trailer. Based on this trailer I honestly thought this movie was going to bomb! You see, up until this point, most movies based on 60's cartoons have ranged from okay (Underdog) to downright atrocious (Dudley Do Right). But when I eventually saw the movie, it was... Better than I expected. Why? Well, let's take a look at the story first.

The story revolves around an extremely intelligent dog named, Mr. Peabody(Ty Burrell) and his adopted human son, Sherman(Max Charles). Using a time traveling machine called, the WABAC, the duo travel to the past to experience iconic historic moments and meet historic people firsthand. However, after Sherman gets into trouble at school due to Penny Peterson(Ariel Winter), Peabody decides to invite Penny and her parents, Paul(Stephen Colbert) and Patty Peterson(Leslie Mann) for dinner to resolve the issue. However, the intelligent dog's plan horribly backfires when Sherman tells Penny about the WABAC. Being the obnoxious and inquisitive girl that she is, decides to do some time traveling of her own. Now, it's up to Mr. Peabody & Sherman to save Penny and return the space-time continuum to normal before the Petersons realize their daughter's missing.

One of the strongest and best elements in the movie has to go to the voice acting. When you listen to the dialogue from the characters, you can tell that they're really putting their all into it and seem to have a ball playing these characters. This is especially true for Ty Burrell as Mr. Peabody. He does an excellent job capturing the intelligence and charisma of Bill Scott, the original voice actor for Mr. Peabody, while also making the portrayal unique. This also seems to add a surge of likability to the character as well and it's difficult not to get invested in Ty's performance.

Another thing that this movie hits out of the park is the characters, especially Mr. Peabody and Sherman. I think this comes from the fact that the relationship between these two characters is well done. In the cartoon, the relationship is more of a boss to assistant sort of thing. In the movie, it's portrayed as a father and son relationship. After years of harmony, a rift starts to form between Mr. Peabody and Sherman. On the one hand, we have Sherman desiring more freedom and responsibility, especially when it comes to driving the WABAC machine. On the other hand, we have Mr. Peabody being apprehensive in giving Sherman more freedom and responsibility because he feels like Sherman is growing up too fast for him and fears that he will outgrow him. This is made even more difficult by the fact that Sherman has been teased at school by people who call him a dog because he was raised by a dog. Here's what I really love about the portrayal of this relationship. Neither side is portrayed as being right or wrong! Because of this, it seems like a very believable situation that could happen in real life. Being a kids movie, this relationship could've easily been a black and white relationship dumbed down for kids. But the fact that it's not is a very smart choice and this sort of relationship can be quite challenging for younger and older audiences.

Another element of the film that I really admire is the humor. Like the cartoon, it has its fair share of pun based humor, which you'd think would be stale and cringe worthy, but it's actually not that bad. In fact, there seem to be an abundance of wonderful puns littered throughout the film such as "If you don't succeed, Troy Troy again!" And "After all, you can't have your cake and edict too." The character that steals the show in the humor department is Steven Colbert as Penny's dad. Yeah some people may be turned off by this character because he's voiced by a celebrity which might seem distracting but even then, he's still really funny. It seems like this character has some of the funniest lines in the movie that are just so well written and paced and because of this, it's hard not to at least giggle at it.

If I did have one issue with the film it would be its second act. By the time the film arrives here, it becomes a bit convoluted and the pacing seems rather hectic. It seems like the film is really eager to rush into the time traveling scenes where Mr. Peabody and Sherman have to rescue Penny when it really could've been more evenly paced if the film were to take its time with this act just like it did with the first act. Even with that said, it doesn't seem to ruin the overall film and the movie's strong elements really do pull it together.

Overall, Mr. Peabody and Sherman is probably one of the best animated films to come out of the 2010's era. Granted it's not a perfect movie, but it's still a movie that feels like the people who worked on it really wanted to make the best film they could. It's a fun adventure for the kids and a really smart and emotional film for older audiences like teenagers and adults. I'd say if you're a diehard fan of the original cartoon, you probably wouldn't get into it as easily because the movie doesn't rely on as much deadpan humor as the cartoon. Nevertheless, I'd say that if you buy this film on DVD or Blu-Ray, this film is worth every penny. Get it? Because one of the characters is named Penny!

Overall Grade: A


  1. Hey Azu I can safely say you are improving as a reviewer and I thought you did a great job with this review. Keep up the good work!!


    1. I plan on reviewing a Robert Rodriguez movie next. Thanks for the compliment.