In my review of Walt Disney’s Frozen (2013), I stated that some films turn to out to be so good when they come out in cinemas that I cannot help seeing them repeatedly without ever feeling satisfied. As well as Frozen, that was also the case with Dreamwork’s Mr. Peabody and Sherman, based on the Peabdoy’s Improbable History segments from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show of the 1960’s. This is also the first Dreamworks film I have ever properly reviewed.
Directed by The Lion King (1994) co-director Rob Minkoff, the film begins with our canine hero Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell) explaining how he went from unwanted orphan pup to an all-round genius with numerous achievements to his name, his proudest achievement being the invention of a time-machine called the WABAC. However, Mr Peabody has spent his recent years raising an orphaned boy named Sherman (Max Charles).
After spending Sherman’s early years bringing him up and teaching him via trips into the past with the WABAC (look out for various historical figures such as Marie Antoinette), Mr. Peabody is preparing to send Sherman to school, for the first time. Having the world’s smartest dog for an adoptive father enables Sherman to immediately outshine his peers. Unfortunately, this places Sherman in direct conflict with a girl named Penny Peterson (Ariel Winter) who bullies him for being raised by a dog in retaliation and an unfriendly confrontation ensues.
At the ensuing meeting with Principal Purdy (Stephen Tobolowsky), Mr. Peabody encounters the fearsome Miss Grunion (Allison Janney) who threatens to take Sherman away, believing Mr Peabody cannot be a parent for being a dog. To prove her wrong, Mr. Peabody invites the Petersons to dinner to make amends much to Sherman’s chagrin. Indeed, faced with strict orders from Mr. Peabody and peer pressure from a resentful Penny, Sherman gives in to the latter and shows her the WABAC. Soon, Sherman has to confess to Mr. Peabody that he has lost Penny.
The dog-and-son team venture back in time, managing to find Penny but also encountering the likes of King Tut and Leonardo Da Vinci before losing each other again whilst in the middle of the Trojan War. With the threat of miss Grunion still a concern and the space-time continuum becoming increasingly disrupted from excessive use of the WABAC, our heroes find themselves in a heap of trouble and have to work together as a team to put things right.
Mr. Peabody and Sherman is best described as a film that starts off as seemingly simple but grows increasingly complicated and actually gets better as a result. Of course, it is not often that DreamWorks does not live up to expectations so why should that not be the case with this film. They have worked very hard on bringing a 1960’s classic to the big screen with the added pressure of appealing to a 21st Century audience and they have done a great job of it. The creators of Shrek have taken a big risk and it has paid off. Here’s to the next film that exceeds my expectations enough to see it repeatedly.