Occasionally, my wonderful wife finds out about advance screenings of upcoming movies. And the moment she sees one, she’ll hop onto it and see if she can get me tickets. Well, she scored two tickets for the soon-to-be-released Mr. Peabody & Sherman, one for me and one for our older son.
For those of you who don’t remember the original cartoons, Mr. Peabody is a talking dog. He travels with a human boy named Sherman. They use a time travel device called the “Wayback Machine” (or possibly WABAC Machine) and go back in time to meet various historical figures. Granted, that’s not a lot to go on for a full-length movie, but hey, Hollywood has done more with less.
So in this version, Mr. Peabody is a genius talking dog who has adopted a human boy named Sherman. And he’s invented the WABAC Machine to take Sherman to witness various historical events (such as, in what I thought was an odd and not-totally-appropriate-for-a-kids-movie choice, the French Revolution, complete with beheadings by guillotine). But Sherman has a new adventure to undergo, namely his first day of school.
It doesn’t go well. He crosses paths with a mean girl named Penny who decides to tease Sherman over the fact that he was adopted by a dog. This results in a fight and an investigation by child protective services.
Mr. Peabody, worried that he could lose Sherman, invites Penny’s family over to make amends. He tells Sherman to entertain Penny with one inviolable instruction: “Do not show her the WABAC.”
You can see where this is going. Penny and Sherman wind up using the WABAC, Mr. Peabody has to go after them, and they have a crazy adventure across time.
Overall, I really enjoyed it. I seem to recall that Mr. Peabody in the old cartoons was quick with a quip or pun at the end of each adventure, and the movie version is as well. The voice acting is top-notch with some great cameos (Einstein’s voice nearly floored me). And there are more than a few jokes put in for the adults in the audience as well.
In some ways, though, the story is a hot mess. There seems to be a lot of different threads (i.e. the questions of the wisdom of a dog adopting a boy, Sherman growing up to be his own man, that sort of thing) that don’t totally weave together well. There were also a large number of poop and/or butt jokes. I suppose it’s a sign of the times.
But I did enjoy myself. My seven year old son did as well. If you can overlook some scatological humor, you should be in for a fun time.