Film Review: ‘Mr. Peabody & Sherman’ Hindered by Extra Sidekick

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Average: 5 (2 votes)

CHICAGO – Talking dogs have been around for decades in animated movies and television shows, especially the anthropomorphized kind. From the superhero antics of Underdog to the biting sarcasm from the likes of Brian from “Family Guy” - take your pick and you can find a dog to your liking. I always took a shine to Mr. Peabody, the intelligent and resourceful beagle with a penchant for puns…who had appeared in misadventurous time-traveling shorts on “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” with his pal Sherman. But that doesn’t mean I was looking forward to DreamWorks Animation’s updated take on these characters for a new 3D computer-animated feature-length film. Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

From the trailers, it seemed like the quirky wry comic timing of Jay Ward and Ted Key (respectively, the producer and creator of “Peabody’s Improbable History”) was getting swallowed by big action/adventure sequences and dumbed-down humor. Sure enough, while there is a hint of the swift comedy and silly good-nature from the animated segments, “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” suffers from a screenplay that plays it safe. The result is a movie that could’ve benefited from relying more on the tone of the source material.

Deemed “the most extraordinary dog in the world”, super genius Mr. Peabody (splendidly voiced Ty Burrell) lives atop New York City in an elaborate penthouse with his adopted son, red-headed Sherman (Max Charles, last seen as young Peter Parker in “The Amazing Spider-Man”). You read that right. In case you’d forgotten (don’t worry, I did too) seven year-old Sherman is the adopted boy of this sophisticated and inventive (he created Autotune and the Zumba) dog. It’s a clever switcheroo that becomes kind of a big deal (too much of one, actually) and a source of contention for poor Sherman. You’d think that if the people noticing Peabody is a talking brainiac dog, they wouldn’t have a problem with the Nobel laureate and two-time Olympic medalist raising a boy. 

Problems do arise, because our heroes need an antagonist and we meet an annoyingly nasty one on Sherman’s first day of school. Her name is Penny Peterson (Ariel Winter), a classmate who becomes jealous of Sherman when he unknowingly shows off his knowledge of American history. It’s not Sherman’s fault he’s learned history first-hand by traveling back in time in the WABAC machine (get it?), created by Mr. Peabody. Nevertheless, a cycle of retaliation begins when Penny humiliates Sherman by calling him a dog (apparently, everyone knows who his father is) and, in turn, Sherman bites the bully. Clearly, this is a kid who would’ve been better off getting home-schooled.

“Mr. Peabody & Sherman” opens everywhere on March 7th. See local listings for 3D theaters and show times. Featuring Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Allison Janney, Dennis Haysbert, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Patrick Warburton, Lake Bell, Stanley Tucci and Mel Brooks. Screenplay by Craig Wright. Directed by Rob Minkoff. Rated “R”

StarContinue reading for David J. Fowlie’s full review of ”Mr. Peabody & Sherman”

Sherman (voice of Max Charles) Catches a Ride with Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell) in ‘Mr. Peabody & Sherman’
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

StarContinue reading for David J. Fowlie’s full review of ”Mr. Peabody & Sherman”

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