Mr. Peabody & Sherman – Review

 

As US cartoon characters who never really filtered over to this side of the side, it’s fair to say the deck is pretty stacked against Mr. Peabody & Sherman’s big screen 3D outing in a way only recently seen with the likes of 2012’s goddawful The Three Stooges. Ignore the lack of brand familiarity however, and what you’ll find in Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a romping good animated 3D adventure that almost plays as “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure for kids”.

 

A big screen spin-off of the 60’s animated shorts Peabody’s Improbable History, this big screen outing more or less follows the central premise of its source material; in which Mr. Peabody (a talking dog, who also happens to be the smartest person in the world) and his adopted human son Sherman travel throughout history in their WABAC (pronounced “wayback”) machine and try to teach their audience about the subject (as well as a little geography, math and science) along the way. For the purposes of sustaining a feature-length narrative, this time around the characters have to actual save history from changes in the timeline that they themselves have inadvertently caused, the adventure ultimately taking the form of a fairly crowd-pleasing, witty and armrest-grippingly funny time travel tale.

 

Front and centre on voice detail is Modern Family’s Phil Dunphey, the always hilarious Ty Burrell, whose Peabody is given the perfect balance between restrained genius, overcompensating father and wonderstruck child purely through the very focussed work behind the mic. A very easy character to make irritating, Burrell’s casting is note perfect, with every awful pun, for instance, delivered in just the right way to make them hilarious. Max Charles meanwhile, known mostly for being the young Peter Parker in the Amazing Spider-Man flashbacks, is perfectly fine as Sherman, although the character is more held back than most, largely so he can serve as the “everyman” audience point-of-view character. When the film does require an emotional crutch for Burrell’s Peabody however, Charles’ work as Sherman is admirably up to the task and functions fairly well. 

 

Rounding off the cast with the likes of Burrell’s fellow Modern Family alum Ariel Winter as the token rival turned friend, the always delightful Patrick Warburton as Agamemnon and evil a voice cameo by Mel Brooks as Sigmund Freud and it’s hard to dispute the quality of talent at work behind the characters. They may not be the A List voice cast typically boasted by the likes of the Shrek movies, but it’s a great ensemble that help to round out an enjoyably goofy set of characters.

 

Obviously, no family film is ever truly perfect these days, but sheer likeability excuses most of the Mr. Peabody & Sherman’s flaws. The film’s third act, for example, may veer dangerously close to the paradoxical timey-wimey nonsense of the average Doctor Who finale, but thanks to the pacey enough ninety minute run time and a sense of humor the likes of which you rarely see (genuinely thought out historical gags will have the smarter kids running for their textbooks), it’s not enough to take down what remains a jaunty adventure that will amuse and entertain both kids and adults alike.

 

 

Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.

 

In it
Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter

Behind it
Rob Minkoff




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