Despite its new look, new voices and story that travels from ancient Egypt to present-day US, Mr Peabody & Sherman never forgets its simple 1960s themes of bonding, adventure and companionship
Dsets the Wayback Machine to the early 1960s and charmingly revives one of the most popular features of the old Rocky & Bullwinkle Show – the one about a dog and his boy.
This winning, witty and warm cartoon captures the flavour, the tone and some of the snappy pace of the TV shorts that began with the droll voice of Bill Scott intoning, “Peabody here, my boy, Sherman ...”
Mr Peabody is a Nobel prize-winning pooch who “invented the fist-bump, autotune and Zumba,” and then adopted Sherman. reamWorks’ animation Mr Peabody & Sherman
He’s given the boy, now 7, a headstart on school by taking the kid time-travelling.
The Wayback Machine has, we can see from the photos decorating their apartment walls, allowed Sherman to meet everyone from Gandhi to Einstein, and Leonardo to the Wright brothers. He’s given Van Gogh painting suggestions, caught a Jackie Robinson home run and short-circuited Ben Franklin.
“Where are we going today, Mr Peabody?”
“Not where, Sherman. When.”
As long as Sherman keeps this a secret, nobody will be the wiser as to why he knows, for a fact, that George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree. Of course, Sherman can’t keep a secret – not even from the mean girl, Penny, who bullies him. And that’s when the trouble starts.
The first “when” is ancient Egypt. Then they check in on Leonardo da Vinci and try to make Mona Lisa crack a smile before they head off to the Trojan War.
Fans of the old Jay Ward TV show may take a while to adjust to the new voices — Ty Burrell of Modern Family is a drollenough Peabody, Max Charles ( The Neighbors) is Sherman. But the witty word play and the pullout-all-stops supporting cast start to pay off.
Patrick Warburton is way over-the-top as the Greek King Agamemnon, Stanley Tucci’s fractured Italian makes him the perfect Leonardo, Mel Brooks is Einstein, and so on.
The animated details of this Rob Minkoff ( The Lion King) comedy are a 3D feast for the eyes.
The canvas wings of a Da Vinci glider ripple in the breeze. When Peabody entertains Penny’s parents (Leslie Mann and Stephen Colbert are a hoot) with a little Jimi Hendrix, he plays Jimi’s Fender upside down.
Things drag, here and there. But kids will dig the slapstick and the talking dog and giggle at what flies out of the Sphinx’s butt, or drops from the rear-end of the Trojan Horse.
Adults will be tickled by a parade of one-liners, running gags and puns. They may also feel a little sentimental — especially if old enough to know the true lesson these characters taught us on TV – the “moral of the story,” as they used to say – “Every dog should have a boy.”
Sherman and Mr Peabody