Mr. Peabody and Sherman, 2014: Movie Review by Guest Reviewer, Eric Schwister
I groaned slightly when soliciting movie suggestions, and my 10 year old son mentioned Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Yes, as a kid I had watched the cartoon shorts on the Rocky and Bullwinkle show but couldn’t even remember if I’d liked them. Only that a cartoon dog was smart, had adopted a boy, and taught him via travel in his time machine.
I went expecting to see recycled fluff that many of these 70s-era animated re-makes turn out to be. But I was pleasantly surprised.
The 2014 movie by Dreamworks works off the same premise and similar use of satire and wordplay as the old Mr. Peabody and Sherman. It’s also surprisingly watchable: intelligent, funny, and even moving at times.
The 3-D animated film has much in common with other time travel movies – the goofy anachronisms found in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and the tortured logistics of time travel and its effect on reality in Back to the Future, for example.
As in the old cartoons, the historic figures encountered along the way are outrageous and funny in modern ways but the story is more than just laughs and chases. The film explores Mr. Peabody’s fitness to raise a human son, ostensibly because he’s a dog, but more deeply because he’s overprotective and uncomfortable expressing emotions.
Every parent can relate to the challenge of finding that delicate balance in raising our children. Where do we land in between trusting our children enough to allow them to make mistakes and being so over-protective that they’re not growing?
The title canine-character shows complexity as a genius who has a confident hold on everything through reason and deduction but raising a son and expressing emotions are uncertainties that he needs to accept.
These are wonderful life themes to explore and yet the film avoids getting too heavy, let alone preachy. It’s basically a funny movie with a light touch and a good message for children and adults.