Most of the knowledge you’ll ever gain in your life comes from your dog. Screw cats!
Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell) is, well, yeah, he’s a dog. But he’s a dog that’s capable of all sorts of things most dogs aren’t capable of doing: He can talk, learn, read, travel in time, dance, sing, play any instrument known to man, drive, and hell, even raise a kid. This is where Sherman comes into his life and, despite him not being a very conventional father-figure for such a young boy, decides to adopt a small boy named Sherman (Max Charles), who was left all alone in a basket one night. Peabody gets clearance from the law to adopt Sherman and be his legal-guardian, enabling him to teach him everything he knows. For the most part, Sherman an Peabody get along splendidly, however, things are going to get a bit more complicated for them now that Sherman’s going to start going to school and being around other kids, where he’ll most likely be subject to a lot of teasing and pestering. Why? Well, because all kids are evil and if your dad’s a dog, well, you’re kind of asking for it. Anyway, one thing leads to another and Sherman gets lost in time with a little ship called “The Wayback Machine”, prompting all sorts of wacky and goofy hijinx to ensue where all sorts of historical-figures get in on the action.
I’ve never watched the original Peabody animated-shorts, but from what my old man tells me, their funny. That’s all, really. That’s actually all I had to work with when it came to this movie, which is why I decided to take him and see if this movie shit all over his childhood like those horrendous Smurfs movies have done.
Needless to say, he was pleased. But most importantly, I was as well. Which, if you think about it, is all that matters, right?
Okay! I know. I’m just kidding. Love you, daddy.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t have much high hopes going into this, and for once in awhile in a long, long time, I went in and came out unexpectedly happy. With most animated movies, they run a very fine-line to where they can be either Pixar-heavy, crying-for-days lite, or just light, ordinary, bring-your-fam-squad-out-for-a-good-time lite; very rarely does one go in between, or, even if they do try, they fail miserably. But somehow, through those creative mofo’s at DreamWorks Animation, things actually work out quite well, even if they are juggling around a bit.
See, what works so well with Peabody, is that it never tries to hammer us over the head of what message it is trying to get across. It’s quite clear that by setting this in the present day, with current themes, ideas and norms, that the movie is trying to tell us that it doesn’t matter if your guardian is a dog or a human, all that does matter is whether or not they treat you right, make you feel special, inspire you and give you all of the common-knowledge in the world that you need to know in order to grow up and be all that you can be. The movie throws that idea out every so often, but it never feels preachy, mostly because Peabody and Sherman themselves, as characters and as a father-son duo/combo/relationship/something, are so well-done that you almost forget about the whole “talking-dog-fathering-real-life-human-being”-aspect of the story. And yes, done anywhere else, that would have been creepy as hell.
I’m not going to keep myself any further from not making a mention of this, but when I saw this sequence in this movie, I knew it was the real deal. About half-way through, the movie shows us, through a sweet, heartwarming tune and various, eventful flash-backs, the life that Peabody and Sherman have built with one another. What’s so nice about it isn’t that we get to actually see how Peabody found and was able to adopt Sherman in the first place, but how much they both matter in each other’s lives, all done in a way that’s played backwards, if to show us how all of their constant time-traveling and history-learning has affected them both as people, as well as knowledgeable people. I know I’m maybe harping on this part a bit too much, but I think it deserves to be. Not only did it get me fully in-tune with the rest of this movie, but it made me tear-up like I haven’t done so in an animated movie in quite some time.
Not until, well, you know. Oh, gosh! Shouldn’t have even posted that link! Crap!
And like I said before, right after that sequence, the movie really picks up and all of a sudden, not only do we care about both Peabody and Sherman, but also the adventure they are thrown in. But the adventure only adds more to the whole story, as it not only teaches us a bit more about family-values, but also a teenie, tiny bit about history, in its own funny, pun-y way. Speaking of which, the humor may not always work, but when you have a kids flick that features at least two or three poop/fart/bathroom-jokes, and you are still able to get a laugh from yours truly, then you’re golden pony boy. The kids of course will love the jokes and just how many times people slip, fall and almost nearly die, but the parents will also be able to appreciate that there’s some humor in there for them as well, without totally abandoning the kiddies. Aka, the same type of kiddies that parents will most likely use as an excuse to see this with, just so that they can see if their childhood has just received a huge turd on its chest from a bunch of billionaires.
The parents will also be pretty darn happy to see that both Peabody and Sherman are voiced well by both Ty Burrell and Max Charles, respectively. Burrell is obviously attuned to this type of deadpan, sarcastic humor with his stint on Modern Family, and it’s clear that it doesn’t matter in what form he’s delivering it in, he’s still pretty damn funny and able to make everybody laugh. Same goes for Max Charles, sounding how a spirited, happy and energetic seven-year-old should sound like. Good job, kiddo! There’s also some other neat, little voice jobs by the likes of Leslie Mann, the almighty Stephen Colbert, Lake Bell, Patrick Warburton, Stanley Tucci, and even Mel Brooks, if you can believe that! Nice to see the man back, even if we never do see him and just hear his voice. Still, it’s better than no Mel Brooks, that’s for sure!
Consensus: Part family-tale, part adventure, and even part history-lesson, but ultimately, Mr. Peabody and Sherman is animated-fare that’s meant for everybody, especially the parents who may be curious to see if their childhoods are ruined or not. Spoiler alert: They aren’t.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!