March 9th, 2014

MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN (2014) ***

Sherman, set the Way Back Machine to the early ‘80s. As a kid, I ate up constant reruns of Rocky and Bullwinkle. And one of my favorite cartoons on that show was Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Flash forward to the present when my four year old daughter has discovered the joys of Rocky and Bullwinkle. And like her old man, she loves Mr. Peabody and Sherman as well. Because of that, she’s been obsessed with the trailers for the new Mr. Peabody and Sherman movie, and being the dutiful dad I am; I took her to see it this weekend.

The plot has Sherman showing off the Way Back Machine to a girl in his class to impress her. Naturally, Mr. Peabody has to head back to ancient Egypt to find her. On their return voyage home, various complications arise that get in their way of returning to the present. And when Sherman inadvertently runs into himself quite literally, it threatens to disrupt the whole time-space continuum. (Timecop rules apply.)

Well, let’s start with the bad news first. Mr. Peabody and Sherman suffers from the filmmakers’ odd desire to have a big chase scene every twenty minutes or so. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but overall, these sequences are overly chaotic and not very funny. (Apparently, just having fun in various time periods isn’t enough for today’s audiences.) The flick also suffers from one poop joke too many.

That being said, Mr. Peabody and Sherman is quite a bit of fun. It is at its best when it hews close to its original inspiration. The scene at the beginning with Marie Antoinette is pretty funny, as is the segment set during the Trojan War. There’s also a bit of business regarding Leonardo DiVinci’s creepy robot kid that gets a few laughs. And since I never met a pun I didn’t like; I enjoyed that Mr. Peabody (a dead-on Ty Burrell) stayed true to his roots by delivering his trademark puns at the end of each time period.

And like the Jay Ward cartoons, there is (just enough) humor for adults to make it worthwhile. My favorite part was when Mr. Peabody tried to stop Sherman from disrupting the time-space continuum during a dreaded dinner party. At the most inopportune of times he blurts out, “Sherman, you aren’t touching yourself are you?”

If you want to take the kids to see a great kids’ movie take them to see The Lego Movie. If you want to take them to see some breezy mindless fun, Mr. Peabody and Sherman is just the thing. I haven’t seen Dudley Do-Right or the George of the Jungle movies, but this is almost as entertaining as the live-action Rocky and Bullwinkle movie.