Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Director: Rob Minkoff

Starring: Ty Burrell, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Patrick Warburton, Stanley Tucci, Allison Janney, Mel Brooks, Lake Bell

Rated: PG (Some mild action and brief rude humor)

The time-traveling adventures of an advanced canine and his adopted son, as they endeavor to fix a time rift they created.

 

Mr. Peabody & Sherman

By Cole Schneider

The new animated comedy “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” has some great laughs serves as an interesting launching pad for parents and teachers to direct children toward science and history. The film follows genius dog Mr. Peabody, his adopted human son Sherman, and a girl he doesn’t get along with Penny.

As Sherman wrestles with his identity, the three embark on a time travel adventure through several major historical events. The French Revolution, Ancient Egypt, the Italian Renaissance, the Trojan War, and other settings are explored with a sense of comic reverence.

It is in these settings the film is at its best. Taken as a series of short comics set to film, the scenes largely satisfy. The construct in which they are presented, however, is absurdly contrived and reveals little provocation on the parts of the writers. If the three primary characters seem thin at the end, it’s only because we’ve forgotten how ridiculously under-developed everyone else is.

The director Rob Minkoff is the mind behind “The Lion King”. Compare the evil Mrs. Grunion of this film with TLK’s Scar, for instance and it’s no contest. Scar had motivations and obstacles, and was intelligent enough to make a legitimate challenge to those obstacles. Mrs. Grunden has no motivations or obstacles, and she just yells things to fill her time on screen. Similar things could be said about any of the other ancillary characters in “Mr. Peabody and Sherman”.

Ultimately, the convolution and lack of inspiration on the script is too much to overlook for what is a comparatively meager number of good jokes. “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” will work for some, but for me it lacked life and traded narrative-driven fun for quick laughs.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars.

 

Mr. Peabody & Sherman

By Matt Greene

Sweetness and good-natured humor seep from the pores of Mr. Peabody & Sherman, an animated adventure film based on the “Rocky and Bullwinkle” shorts. While not as inventive as 2014’s Lego Movie, Minkoff and company managed to bring the 1950s cartoon into the 21st century without completely abandoning the fun self-awareness of the original. A mixture of Indiana-Jones-style adventure, fast pacing and an onslaught of dog puns make this a decent, if somewhat uninspired, outing.

It’s the story of a genius dog and his human son who travel through time and space learning history and causing havoc along the way. As with most time travel stories, the stakes are high but the peril never quite connects. There are some sloppy moments and missed opportunities especially in the time travel elements. When you have all of time and space at your fingertips, you shouldn’t squander that opportunity.

However, the focus is clearly on the innocent humor, great action and father-son relationship. Burrell nails it as the witty dog-dad, describing the science of everything and keeping it light, all while saving the day. The set pieces are stunning, recalling the underappreciated Adventures of Tintin in their exuberance. In addition, its study of parent/child relationships is touching and attentive.

Sure, Dreamworks is still trying to be a bit too hip, forcing time-sensitive one-liners and unneeded innuendos when simple and tight storytelling would suffice. Yet while it’s far from groundbreaking or completely successful, it still manages to be much better than most of the wasted garbage that’s been dumped on the theatres this year.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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