One of this week's new releases is "Mr. Peabody and Sherman." This charming film is based on popular television characters from the 1960s "Rocky and Bullwinkle" cartoons. Just as refreshing then to have characters whose main power is their intellect, so too is it welcome to have today's young audience celebrate the cerebral.
In "Mr. Peabody and Sherman," Mr. Peabody is a very smart dog who is raising an orphaned son, Sherman. He uses a time machine he invented to take Sherman on trips to teach him about history. On his first day of school, Sherman gets into a fight with another student, Penny. Hoping to resolve things, Mr. Peabody invites Penny and her parents to their home for dinner. While Peabody is entertaining her parents, Sherman, going against his dad's rules, shows Penny the time machine, and they use it.
"Mr. Peabody and Sherman" works because it has fun characters. Peabody is constructed as one of the world's smartest individuals, the inventor of many things and with a mind like an encyclopedia. Yet his intellectual prowess does not always save him from the mundane problems of parenting, something that parents in the audience will appreciate. Sherman is a good character because he tries to obey his dad, but as he gets to know Penny, he becomes more adventurous. The filmmakers use the fact that Mr. Peabody is a dog to gently reinforce the theme of needing to overcome biases in society.
There are several great action scenes in the movie. In one scene, Penny and Sherman fly an old plane when they are in the era of Leonardo Da Vinci. This is a good scene because it shows Sherman learning to take risks as he is with Penny.
"Mr. Peabody and Sherman" is a lot of fun for fans of animation.