Mr. Peabody & Sherman

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Mr. Peabody is a gifted anthropomorphic dog, dedicating his life to science and technological discovers after failing to be taken as a pet. He adopts a 7-year-old boy, Sherman, after finding the child orphaned. He tutors Sherman through a series of adventures throughout history with the use of the WABAC, a time machine.

With Sherman growing older, Mr. Peabody enrolls him at the Susan B. Anthony School in New York City. Sherman’s first-hand knowledge of historical events leads to conflict with a bully, Penny Peterson, and when she teases him in the cafeteria, he bit her. Mr. Peabody is called in, informed of the incident by Principal Purdy, and is told by Ms. Grunion, a Child Protective Services agent that she will be reviewing Mr. Peabody’s care of Sherman in an upcoming home inspection, threatening to remove the boy from Peabody’s custody if Peabody is not proven to be a good parent.

Mr. Peabody arranges for the Petersons to visit during the home inspection as a way to make up to them and to help impress Ms. Grunion when she arrives. While Mr. Peabody entertains Penny’s parents, she convinces Sherman to take her to see the WABAC to prove out his first-hand knowledge of history, despite Mr. Peabody’s instructions to keep the machine a secret. Sherman is coaxed into taking Penny into the past, and accidentally strands her in Ancient Egypt, as she wanted to stay. Sherman, returning to the present, informs Mr. Peabody of the problem, and after temporarily brainwashing Penny’s parents, he joins Sherman. They rescue Penny, who is much more willing to come after learning she would be killed and entombed with the young King Tut when he dies.

The WABAC runs out of power on the way back, but Mr. Peabody is able to get them to Renaissance Florence where they meet his old friend, Leonardo da Vinci. While Mr. Peabody and da Vinci construct a machine to restore power to the WABAC, Penny and Sherman explore da Vinci’s attic, finding his flying machine. Penny again goads Sherman to fly it, which he manages to do before crashing it. Though da Vinci is thrilled the device works, Mr. Peabody is upset at Sherman for disrespecting his orders. With the WABAC recharged, the three attempt to return to the present, but a black hole forces them to make an emergency landing during the Trojan War. Sherman, already upset, runs off and joins the armies of King Agamemnon as they prepare the Trojan Horse. During the ensuing battle, Sherman is trapped on the Horse as it about to fall off a cliff, but Mr. Peabody is able to rescue him, though appears to die as the Horse topples over the side.

Sherman, aware that encountering other versions of themselves can damage the time stream, sends the WABAC to a few minutes before they left in the present as to get Mr. Peabody’s help to fix everything. As Sherman and Penny try to explain everything, Sherman’s earlier self shows up as well as Ms. Grunion. Seeing the confusion, Ms. Grunion attempts to collect both Shermans. Mr. Peabody, furious, bites Ms. Gruinion, who calls the cops and grabs both Shermans, causing them to touch and merge into one – this action creates a rip in the space-time continuum that opens over Mr. Peabody’s penthouse, sending historical figures falling onto the present. Mr. Peabody and Sherman race for the WABAC, but find they cannot travel back into time as all the paths lead back to the present.

Unable to stop the rip, the WABAC falls back to the ground, and cops quickly surround the vehicle and Animal Control is called in to restrain Mr. Peabody. Sherman explains that everything was his fault, but admits he admires Mr. Peabody and would rather be called a dog as good as he is, than to be a person. The others, include Penny and her parents, and many of the historical figures they have met agree. Mr. Peabody is given an official pardon by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Bill Clinton. Mr. Peabody and the other historical figures try to figure out how to close the tear when Sherman suggests they travel into the future, which should undo the rip. Mr. Peabody and Sherman take off in the WABAC and successfully undo the damage, with the historical figures being dragged back to the respective times. Ms. Gruinon vows revenge on Mr. Peabody until King Agamemnon grabs her and takes her back to his time. In the epilogue, Sherman returns to school and has made friends with Penny and the other students, with Mr. Peabody proud of the boy he raised.

In the final scene, the time periods are contaminated with modern traits while Ms. Grunion and King Agamemnon are engaged in the Trojan Horse as the Carpet Sweeper follows behind it.

REVIEW:

Well, here we go again, further proof that Hollywood has no more original ideas! This time they reached back and took a segment from The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle to bring us this “amazing” motion picture (note the sarcasm), Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

What is this about?

Resurrected from the 1960s animated series “Rocky and Bullwinkle,” canine genius Mr. Peabody and young Sherman take a dizzying ride through time.

What did I like?

A for effort. I have to give Ty Burrell props, he did his best impersonation of Bill Scott’s original voicing of Mr. Peabody. For those that are too young or haven’t had the opportunity to watch the original, he fits right in. For those of us who are a bit more learned in the ways of Peabody, he is not a replacement, but there are worse voice actors out there that could have been cast.

Follow the time travel rules. Out of the endless number of time travel films out there, all with various rules and whatnot, the one thing that seems to be constant is that you must not (fill in the blank), because it will mess up the space-time continuum. In the original cartoon, I don’t think anyone had even thought of the space-time continuum. I don’t think that became a big thing until Back to Future, anyway. In an attempt to bring this film up to date, they make sure to address that, thus keeping up with the rules.

Pun-ishable. One of the things I remember fondly from the original cartoon and actually hoped would be used greatly in this film were the puns Mr. Peabody would say. While I wish there were more, there were a few to appease fans like me who hungered for puns. Had these puns not been in there, I fear there may have been a riot!

What didn’t I like?

Predictable villains. There is a pattern in today’s animated children’s fare, mostly with the villains. In this case, our antagonist is a child protective services worker. She is bound and determined to prove Sherman doesn’t belong with Mr. Peabody and, I can’t place it, her character design is reminiscent of another film. I want to say the Matchmaker from Mulan, but that’s probably not right. At any rate, all her mean, “do what’s best for the boy” ways do is just cause the near destruction of everything. I think you can figure out how it all works out in the end, though.

Girl, please. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is supposed to be a movie about Mr. Peabody & Sherman, so why is there a girl thrown in the mix? My guess is that some studio did a focus group and felt that little girls needed a character to relate to (as if they don’t already with all the YA movies that are being churned out, not to mention that almost every animated film has a female protagonist…but don’t let me get on a soapbox this evening). The Boxtrolls made this same mistake. There was a good thing going with the boy and his family, then enter the girl and everything changes. Such is life, though.

Origin. Sometimes reading what other people have to say about a film can really open your eyes. I was reading another review of this film earlier today and they brought up an interesting point. When the original series was aired, there was no need for a back story on Mr. Peabody, Sherman, or the WABAC machine. They just existed and we accepted it as such. Personally, I was curious about how Mr. Peabody got Sherman, but I didn’t lose sleep over it. Perhaps this film should have skipped all that and remembered the simplicity of the source material, rather than trying to make things too complex with a convoluted back story about a dog who didn’t get adopted, a boy who was abandoned, and various adventured that we never see. Simple is almost always better.

Surprisingly, I liked Mr. Peabody & Sherman much more than I had any right to. That being said, I still do not believe this film should have been made. The original cartoon was maybe 5 minutes long and in that time kids learned, were entertained, and got an entire story. This thing is nearly 90s minutes and I feel unfulfilled. Chalk this up to the scores of films based on children’s properties from yesteryear that just don’t work unless in their original medium. Let’s hope that the rumors of Commander McBragg are false. I don’t want to see his legacy tarnished, either. Do I recommend this? If you have kids or are nostalgic, then it is worth a viewing or two, but after that, it just becomes torturous drivel that is best steered away from.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

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