MRR Review: "Mr. Peabody & Sherman"

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Using his most ingenious invention, the WABAC machine, Mr. Peabody and his adopted boy Sherman hurtle back in time to experience world-changing events first-hand and interact with some of the greatest characters of all time.
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Rating: PG
Length: 92 minutes
Release Date: March 07, 2014
Directed by: Rob Minkoff
Genre: Animation / Adventure / Comedy

Dreamworks has come out with yet another heart-warming animated film with "Mr. Peabody and Sherman," a fun story about an extraordinarily intelligent dog and his adopted human son. When the young Sherman misuses a time travel machine, Mr. Peabody must visit different time periods with him to undo the damage. This PG-rated adventure has plenty of humor to keep kids entertained, but it also has just enough mature humor to appeal to parents as well.

At the very beginning of the film, viewers are introduced to Mr. Peabody, an intelligent dog who has an extensive repertoire of nearly superhuman accomplishments. The introductory monologue also explains how Mr. Peabody had adopted a human child named Sherman, who regularly goes on fantastic time-traveling expeditions with him. On his first day of school, Sherman shines as some of his father's intelligence has rubbed off on him. Sherman encounters a disagreeable classmate named Penny who proceeds to pick on him out of jealousy, and he ends up biting her, which leads to serious consequences for his adopted father. Mr. Peabody faces the possibility of losing custody over Sherman for teaching him bad habits, so he attempts to make amends in order to convince social services of his reliability.

Mr. Peabody invites Penny and her parents over for dinner, but Penny and Sherman soon take off together. When Sherman shows Penny Mr. Peabody's time machine WABAC (pronounced "way back"), the two end up traveling to different eras. When Mr. Peabody finds out, he fears the paradoxes that could show up as a result of the children's interference. He then decides to travel back in time with Sherman and Penny to return balance to the time-space continuum. They have numerous adventures as they travel to ancient Egypt to meet King Tut, travel to the days of the French Revolution, visit ancient Rome and meet up with Leonardo da Vinci.

"Mr. Peabody and Sherman" is an entertaining film that dedicates most of its focus to clever jokes, but it also covers some important themes such as emotional expressiveness and parenthood. Kids understand from watching the film that it is important to talk about their feelings, and the numerous moments of father-son bonding give the film a warm-hearted feel.

Although this film includes a few mature jokes, it is completely child-appropriate in most regards. The plot does not condone bad behavior or encourage rebellion, instead displaying how a father-son team can work together to solve big problems. Although "The Lion King" co-director Rob Minkoff does not accomplish the same genuine relationship between Mr. Peabody and Sherman as he does between Mufasa and Simba, the character interactions are still entertaining. The film also serves to engage children in historical events, although the plot adds some of its own twists to the events for the sake of humor. The result is that young audiences become interested in the real-life events, rushing to the library to learn more about da Vinci, King Tut and the rest.

"Mr. Peabody and Sherman" is a comedy made for children, but it also includes humor that appeals to adults. Most of the humor for children is slapstick, and the mature jokes are often subtle references to individuals like Bill Clinton and Oedipus. Although the film attempts to join these two categories of humor seamlessly, this attempt sometimes entertains one age group at a time instead of everyone at once.

The CGI in this film is extremely colorful and has a cartoonish quality reminiscent of old "Looney Tunes" animations. The environments at times feel genuine. However, the understated visuals do not detract from the entertaining storyline. The film still manages to hold viewers' attention and keep them smiling all the way.

The highlight of this film is the voice acting, which lends some much-needed personality and depth to the characters. Ty Burrell from the hit TV show "Modern Family" plays Mr. Peabody with the perfect level of class and sophistication. Burrell's voice talents fit the dog's character perfectly, making him sound both intelligent and caring. Max Charles is impressive in his emotional portrayal of Sherman, and Stanley Tucci's portrayal of Leonardo da Vinci is right on-spot.

"Mr. Peabody and Sherman" is an animated film that offers a wild ride of fun and humor for kids and parents alike. The animation is not so high-quality as to detract from the story, which is both entertaining and educational. This film is a great choice for parents who want to expose their kids to history without boring them with textbook information and dull documentaries.

Rating: 3 out of 5