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Mr. Peabody & Sherman

mr-peabody-sherman-25462-1920x1080By Howard McQuitter II

Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014) 

****

DreamWorks. Animation/Adventure/Family

Cast: Ty Burrell (Mr. Peabody, voice), Max Charles (Sherman, voice), Ariel Winter (Penny Peterson, voice), Leslie Mann (Patty Peterson, voice), Guillaune Arestos (Robespierre, voice), Lauri Fraser (Marie Antoinette/Egyptian Woman, voice), Stanley Tucci (Leonardo da Vinci, voice). (PG) Running time:92 minutes. Languages: Spanish/English. Director: Rob Minkoff.

I find myself going back in time–fondly–with “Peabody’s Improbable History” as a segment of “Rocky and His Friends” which debuted on ABC in 1959 and later known as “The Bullwinkle Show” on NBC. The animation show created by Jay Wards Productions as a half-hour cartoon featured Bullwinkle J. Moose and Rocket J. Squirrel of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, and their archenemies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale; then there is Mountie Dudley Do-Right, a good but Fractured Fairy Tales” narrated by the mellow voice of comic actor Edward Everett Horton.

Rob Minkoff’s (“The Lion King” [1994],”Stuart Little” [1999], “Stuart Little 2”[2002]) “Mr. Peabody’s & Sherman “live in a Manhattan penthouse unlike the plain “white” house of my boyhood where the Dog and his Boy lived. Back then and now, Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell) and Sherman (Max Charles), the former the smartest dog in the world, a bespectacled beagle, a Nobel Prize winner, who adopts a human boy named Sherman. Sherman also wears glasses. Between the two, they invent the WABAC (pronounced way-back) Machine.

Mr. Peabody sends Sherman to school where he’s initially bullied by Penny Peterson (Ariel Winter of “Modern Family”). Penny’s parents bring her to Mr. Peabody and Sherman’s upscale Manhattan pad to mend things between their daughter and Sherman. Peabody tells Sherman to keep the WABAC strictly confidential between them. That confidentiality is broken when Sherman enthusiastically shows Penny the WABAC and before she knows it she’s thrown back to the Egypt of 1332 B.C. Sherman and Peabody hold off parents until dog and his boy crank up the WABAC back to ancient Egypt only to bring a reluctant Penny forward back to 21st century Manhattan.

Before Peabody and Sherman meet Penny, the brainy beagle and his geeky boy use the WABAC to go back to late 18th century France to see Maria Antoinette (voice by Lauri Fraser) standing among other aristocrats as she allegedly utters “Let them eat cake”, referring to the hungry peasants in the streets. And before long, Peabody and Sherman are entangled in the Reign of Terror, Antoinette hauled off to the guillotine with Peabody mistakenly to be one of the guillotine but slips down to a tunnel where he and Sherman escape.

The movie explores things the TV series doesn’t such as why a brilliant dog would adopt a human boy, an orphan boy at that. Nonetheless, the movie manages to much of its charm although, I must say, short of the original. But by the end, “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” will delight children and adults alike. Look for the word “eponymous” on Sherman’s lunchbox.

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