Mr Peabody & Sherman - Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
HOLLYWOOD has form for rewriting history but at least Mr Peabody and Sherman does so knowingly, often quite cleverly and with tongue firmly in cheek.
Inspired by characters that first appeared in the late 50s and early 60s animated TV series Rocky And His Friends and The Bullwinkle Show (which clocked up 91 shorts), this animated adventure is a quick-witted romp that’s both madcap and heartfelt.
And while it may not quite emerge as a top dog of the animation world, there’s still plenty to keep both the adults and their kids entertained.
Rob Minkoff (of Stuart Little and The Lion King fame) directs an origins tale of sorts that quickly introduces us to how ingenious canine Mr Peabody (voiced by Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell) came to adopt Sherman (Max Charles) and educated him to a higher degree by whisking him off in a time machine, The Way Back, so that he can meet and witness key people and moments in history.
When Sherman lands in trouble at school and Mr Peabody is faced with the prospect of losing his charge, he hatches a plan to repair the damage only to have it scuppered by Sherman’s attempts to impress a girl that sends them on a zany adventure through history.
Essentially a tale of father-son bonding, Mr Peabody and Sherman also functions as a whirlwind trip through history – from ancient Egypt to Rennaissance Italy and the siege of Troy – that is shot through with smart visual gags and race-against-time action sequences.
Admittedly, some of this gets repetitive while low brow jokes aimed at pleasing the kids sometimes collide uneasily with the higher brow winks to the adults. But the film moves at such a blistering pace that it usually gets back on track pretty quickly.
Burrell, meanwhile, injects just the right amount of guile and charisma into Mr Peabody to make him an instantly winning character (and one that plays well to anyone who knows him better as Phil Dunphy), while the visuals are bright and creative enough for viewers to be able to immerse themselves into the various eras the film visits.
A bonkers, borderline subversive finale in contemporary New York is also good value, bringing with it the inevitable schmaltz.
Hence, while never really coming close to writing its own place in cinema history as an out and out animated classic, Mr Peabody and Sherman still does enough to collar a wide and appreciative audience.
Running time: 92mins
UK Release Date: February 7, 2014x