At first, I found "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" a little odd. I had seen the cartoons it is based on as a kid, but never really thought much about them. I liked them, but I just didn't think too hard about them. Suddenly, watching this movie, I started to think about the whole scenario. One question kept ringing through my head: How did this boy become adopted by a dog? Actually, lots of questions such as "Is this the only talking dog?" and "What do other people think of this situation?" rang through my head. There was just something odd about it all.
Odd relationships are not new to time travel stories, however. "Back to the Future" also had an odd relationship in it. I mean, just who was Doc Brown anyway and how did he ever meet Marty McFly? It's never really explained and it didn't really have to be. Sometimes you just have to go with it and that is enough. I always thought that Mr. Peabody was just a Doc Brown type character to Sherman's Marty McFly when I was a kid. I never realized that he was his adoptive father until this movie made it clear. For some reason I could except the relationship in the original cartoons, but here, where the story wasn't restricted to being only about Mr. Peabody and Sherman, but the whole town they lived in, I found myself wondering what everyone else thought about their relationship and how exactly it came about.
Well, soon enough, I got my answers. You see, "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" is not just a funny time travel adventure. "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" is the story of how a genius talking dog comes to adopt a boy and how that relationship works. The trend I am seeing more and more in "kid's movies" is that they are actually sometimes more emotional and full of wisdom than any other kind of movie. "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" continues this trend as it tells a heartwarming story of a father and his son. One of these two just happens to be a dog which you don't see everyday!
"Mr. Peabody & Sherman" hits all the right notes with the family drama, but this is also a movie filled with funny adventures through time just like the cartoons that inspired it. Mr. Peabody and Sherman and a girl named Penny have many adventures through time. The adventures are both educational in that they could be history lessons for the children in the audience and funny in that they are filled with humorous dialogue and physical comedy. If you like puns then this is the movie for you. Mr. Peabody not only knows his history, but also knows how to put together a good pun to end every adventure.
The screenplay for "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" is credited to Craig Wright who has written for various television shows such as "Six Feet Under" and "Lost" with additional dialogue written by "The State" alumni Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant. There's no telling who wrote what lines, but it all comes together rather nicely. It is a script that is well paced with a good balance between humor, history, and heart.
The animation in "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" has a style similar to other movies put out by Dreamworks rather than any kind of unique style of its own. You could say the animators played it safe with this one, but the animation feels right for the story and is very high quality. It is not as impressive as the beautiful animation seen in the other Dreamworks animated movie "How to Train Your Dragon" nor is it as impressive as the I-can't-believe-these-aren't-real-LEGOs animation in "The LEGO Movie" from Warner Bros. Still, the animation works for the movie and certainly looks nice enough.
The voice acting in the movie is great all around. Especially good is Ty Burrell as Mr. Peabody. He completely captures the essence of the character from the original cartoons while adding extra emotion that the cartoons never really had. Max Charles does very well as the know-it-all, but still totally likeable Sherman. Ariel Winter makes a great rival/potential friend for Sherman in the character of Penny.
Overall, "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" is a delight to watch. It is fun and funny, but it is also educational and heartwarming. It is a great movie for kids to see and it is a movie that adults can enjoy as well. It even has a sex joke in it, technically, that may go over most kids' heads, but the adults will all get a laugh at. As for time travel, it manages to approach it without things getting confusing as time travel movies often do. In fact, just when it starts to head into confusing territory it diffuses the situation and brings everything back to an easy to follow place.
"Mr. Peabody & Sherman" is the best kind of restart of a franchise. It has taken something small and simple and somehow managed to turn it into something bigger and better without losing what made the original appealing in the first place. A movie based on a property like this could have gone very south, but I am happy to say that this one is a success.
Now I just need to come up with some kind of witty pun to finish off this review. Yeah, I've got nothing. I suppose not everyone can be as clever as Mr. Peabody. I guess it's true what they say: Every dog has its day!