Growing up watching Rocky & Bullwinkle I was somewhat of an anomaly amongst my friends. It seems no one else had it in their childhood rotation along with the likes of Looney Tunes and The Muppets. Unfortunately, the years have not been kind to moose and squirrel. After the abominable live-action/CGI-hybrid film, I was more than surprised when DreamWorks announced their plans to adapt Ted Key’s Rocky & Bullwinkle characters from Peabody’s Improbably History into the feature-length Mr. Peabody & Sherman.
Thankfully, once it was announced that director Rob Minkoff was attached as director I released a sigh of hope considering he was one of two directors responsible for The Lion King. However, even though he did direct the first Stuart Little, he was also the man who wrought us Stuart Little 2, Disney’s Haunted Mansion, and Jackie Chan’s beyond awful Forbidden Kingdom. I am happy to announce that Minkoff has delivered in spades.
Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell) is a talking dog who also happens to be the smartest being in the world. Sherman (voiced by Max Charles) is his adopted son and it’s his first day of school. Classmate Penny (voiced by Ariel Winter) doesn’t like know-it-all Sherman and bullies him in the lunchroom causing Sherman to retaliate by biting her. The incident brings upon the wrath of Mrs. Grunion (voiced by Allison Janney), who threatens to take Sherman away from Mr. Peabody and will be launching a full investigation into their home life.
Mr. Peabody sees a way to fix everything by inviting Penny and her parents (voiced by Leslie Mann and Stephen Colbert) over for dinner. Soon enough, Sherman shows off Mr. Peabody’s time-traveling WABAC machine, where Penny wants to stay in 1332’s Ancient Egypt and marry King Tut (voiced by Zach Callison), but everyone knows King Tut dies young and so too will Penny. Now, Mr. Peabody and Sherman have to rescue Penny and find their way home again, all while traveling through different eras of historical events ranging from the 1789 French Revolution to 1508 Florence, Italy to 1184 B.C.’s Trojan War.
To put it lightly, Mr. Peabody & Sherman consists of more puns than most films. The fact that only one writer (Craig Wright) is credited is almost mind-blowing. While most of today’s kids will have no idea who these characters are, there’s something for everyone to enjoy; even if you’re a couple of adults out for a night on your own. The voice cast—especially Burrell—is clearly having a ball along with Minkoff as he riffs from one scenario to the next.
Hilarity abounds even if the film doesn’t find its footing until after about the first 10 minutes. But once it does, the laughs rarely stop. Sight gags and verbal puns come fast and furious and the animation is top notch, as expected. While it may not reach the level of perfection last month’s LEGO Movie possessed, it’s head over heels better than January’s Nut Job. There have been rumors that if this film succeeds, a full-length Rocky & Bullwinkle film will get the greenlight. Here’s to hoping, as Mr. Peabody & Sherman is all around first-class entertainment for everyone.
Photos courtesy DreamWorks Animation