Based on the television cartoon series, "Peabody's Improbable History", from the late 1950's and early 60's, "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" brings the genius dog, Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell) and his adopted son, Sherman (voiced by Max Charles) to the big screen in 3-D animation. Also on hand is Mr. Peabody's WABAC machine, a time-traveling invention, which takes the duo to many marvelous places.
One does not have to be an aficionado of the original cartoon to enjoy this updated version. Mr. Peabody and Sherman reside in a spectacular penthouse atop a very modern skyscraper in New York City. Sherman calls his adopted father Mr. Peabody because that is what Mr. Peabody prefers. He wishes not to be called Dad.
They enjoy a very close relationship and share a multitude of special adventures in the WABAC. But then Sherman must start school, and unfortunately for him, he becomes the object of unwanted bullying from his classmate, Penny Peterson (voiced by Ariel Winter).
To make amends after Sherman bites Penny at school, which has put Mr. Peabody in danger of losing custody of Sherman, he invites Penny and her parents, Paul (voiced by Stephen Colbert) and Patty (voiced by Leslie Mann) to dinner. Mr. Peabody makes Sherman promise not to show Penny the WABAC, but we all know how that goes.
"Mr. Peabody & Sherman" is delightfully charming and fun for children of all ages. The idea of traveling back in time, though not terribly original, is highly entertaining. Penny getting herself engaged to King Tut is very amusing until she learns the consequences of such a pairing. Stanley Tucci voicing Leonardo da Vinci attempting to make Mona Lisa (voiced by LakeBell) smile is also quite droll. There are a lot of subtle moments which help keep "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" enjoyable for the adults in the theater.
Patrick Warburton is a tad silly as Agamemnon, a Trojan warrior a few cards shy of a full deck, but that's okay. The kids will love this film, and the animation by the Dreamworks team is brilliant, as always. Even the simple execution of Mr. Peabody driving Sherman to school on his motor scooter is perfect --- right down to the click of his helmet strap.
Opinion: See It Now!
News Flash: "Dog Adopts Boy!". In a unique twist on man's best friend, Mr. Peabody is a canine that not only speaks the King's English pawlessly -- er, flawlessly ---- he is amazingly proficient in many other areas. He is a math and science genius, he's a gourmet chef, he can dunk a basketball, juggle and play the guitar. And he is a master inventor, including a time machine called the WABAC.
Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell of TV's "Modern Family") and Sherman (voiced by 10-year-old Max Charles) whiz back in time in the WABAC, mingling with a host of historical figures ranging from Marie Antoinette to Albert Einstein to Presidents Lincoln and Washington, to Agamemnon and the Trojan Horse, and Leonardo da Vinci (I loved the Mona Lisa episode) in Florence, Italy.
There are many delightfully detailed moments in Dreamworks' latest animated film. Whether Mr. Peabody is chopping veggies for the signature meal he is preparing, or tooling around on his red motor scooter, complete with sidecar for Sherman, this picture is mostly fun, not only for kids, but adults, as well. Many of the gags and lines will be way over young ones' heads, including a brief appearance by Spartacus, the Greek warrior made famous by Kirk Douglas.
Cutesy puns abound, as when Sherman's schoolmate Penny (voiced by 16-year-old Areil Winter, also from "Modern Family") is stranded in ancient Egypt because Sherman took her for a joyride in the WABAC. She's either "in the Nile" or "in denial". But I can live with the puns --- far better than a movie full of gross jokes based on bathroom humor.
Other notable voice talents are Allison Janney (Mrs. Grunion, a social worker who questions Mr. Peabody's parental abilities), Stephen Colbert (Penny's father Paul), Leslie Mann (Penny's mom Patty), Patrick Warburton (Agamemnon), Lake Bell (Mona Lisa), Stanley Tucci (da Vinci), and Mel Brooks (Einstein). "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" is simply good clean fun that kids and their parents can enjoy.
Opinion: See It Now!