Mr. Peabody & Sherman Movie Review
With a constant barrage of hilarious visual and verbal gags, this riotous animated adventure might entertain adults more than kids. Although youngsters will enjoy the whizzy pace and manic 3D animation. Based on one of Jay Ward's anarchic 1960s creations (see also Rocky & Bullwinkle), it's a relentless onslaught of jokes and puns, with a hint of educational value thrown in for good measure.
After a lonely puppyhood, the intelligent dog Peabody (voiced by Burrell) studied to become a globally acclaimed artist, sportsman and inventor, eventually adopting a human boy, Sherman (Charles), as his son. But now it's time for Sherman to start school, which isn't easy when you're a genius with a dog as your dad. Sure enough, mean girl Penny (Winter) mercilessly bullies him while Child Services officer Mrs Grunion (Janney) plots to have him taken into care. So Peabody invites Penny's parents (Colbert and Mann) and Grunion over to sort things out. But in an effort to impress her, Sherman shows Penny the Way Back time machine he and Peabody use to explore history. And Penny decides to stay in Ancient Egypt.
The movie barely pauses for breath, racing from the Pyramids to Renaissance Italy for an adventure with Da Vinci (Tucci), then on to the Trojan War and Agamemnon (Warburton). At every step, the script gleefully subverts history with goofy slapstick, poo jokes, movie references and absurd touches that come out of nowhere. It's a remarkably intelligent approach to kids' comedy, and even if the chaos sometimes feels exhausting, it's so funny we don't really mind. And the energetic plotting will delight children as much as the rather surreal idea of having a dog as a dad.
If this wild approach clicks with audiences, the possibilities are endless for this duo in future film adventures. Even if the animation is slightly plasticky (why isn't Peabody furrier?) and the whole movie just a bit too snappy, it's refreshingly character-based right up to the Avengers-like oversized finale. There are also some decent messages along the way, including the idea that historical events are probably more complex than our textbooks say. But it's the relationship between Peabody and Sherman that ultimately wins us over, and without laying on the lessons too heavily we can't help but smile as this dog and his boy become a proper father and son.