Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Directed By: Rob Minkoff

Starring: Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter, Leslie Mann, and Stephen Colbert

Children are taking over the box office we all know and love.  Every time I turn around, there's a new movie for them in theaters.  What happened to the good old days when they used to have a handful of flicks during the summer?  What happened to the good old days when Hollywood was fixated on the 18-49 demographic and not their children?  This year already, we've seen the likes of The Nut Job and The Lego Movie (which I actually liked).  Now, Mr. Peabody & Sherman is hitting theaters.  The more troubling notion is that, in the coming weeks and months, there are many more on the way...

Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell) is the smartest dog in the world, but there was one thing he never had growing up, a family.  This genius canine became a captain of industry, a pioneer in the sciences, and a world-renowned scholar.  Still, that void persisted in his heart.  It persisted until he found Sherman (Max Charles), a baby abandoned in the streets.  He takes Sherman in and adopts the boy.  Mr. Peabody makes it his purpose in life to share all that he is and all that he knows with Sherman, including his time machine the WABAC.  Giving Sherman an education like none other, he takes the boy to various points in history, including the beginning of the French Revolution during which the poor rebelled against Marie Antoinette (Lauri Fraser).  After spending his formative years in the past, Sherman must begin the next phase of his education.

Returning back to the present, Sherman is set to begin his first day at school.  Thanks to his hands-on learning experience in the WABAC, he's very eager to share his knowledge in class.  His classmates, especially a girl named Penny (Ariel Winter), aren't too eager to receive it, however.  After Sherman's recount of how George Washington did not chop down a cherry tree, Penny makes fun of the boy and the rather unique circumstances of his upbringing.  Penny calls Sherman a dog and teases him.  For this, he bites her.  For that, Mr. Peabody is brought into the principal's office.  There, Mr. Peabody's parenting skills are put into question by child services employee Mrs. Grunion (Allison Janney).  In fact, Grunion is coming to Mr. Peabody's home tonight to assess whether the canine is fit to be Sherman's parent.  To placate Mrs. Grunion, Peabody invites Penny and her parents (Stephen Colbert and Leslie Mann) over for dinner.  He just never anticipated that Sherman and Penny would sneak back to ancient Egypt with the WABAC during what otherwise would have been a lovely evening.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a film for the kids and the kids alone.  While I don't have a deep regard for the film, I'm sure the children will.  It's a cute, heartwarming little movie about respecting others’ differences.  Though I agree with the intent, it's a little too silly for my own personal taste and offers few nuggets of adult humor.  With Modern Family's Ty Burrell leading two kids through various points in history, I'm sure you can understand my position.  It's like watching Phil Dunfy on crack with nobody to balance him out on screen.  What's worse is that he's always right.  I know I'm poking the bear because there are a lot of Modern Family fans out there, but Burrell's brand of humor works best in an ensemble, not in a film like Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

Director Rob Minkoff takes us through various points in history.  We visit France at the dawn of the French Revolution, ancient Egypt in the midst of King Tut's reign, Florence at the height of Leonardo Da Vinci's artistry, and Troy when what began with an apple ends with a horse.  I have to give Minkoff credit for putting together one adventurous film marked by well-done animation.  His movie gives the kids a healthy dose of history.  At the same time, I have mixed feelings about the whole time travel premise.  There are minor inconsistencies that I'm sure a kid wouldn't notice. However, the adults in the audience will, especially if they've watched a few time travel films in their heyday.  While I won't spoil the film, I will say these inconsistencies certainly irked me.

On the whole, Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a decent film.  I can't say that I'm in love with that smart little dog, but I'm sure many kids will be.  This isn't an animated flick for kids and adults alike.  You can't have your cake and eat it too during this one.  Mr. Peabody & Sherman gets a 0.06% rating.  Adults, I might recommend sneaking in a beer or a miniature to help you get through this one.