“Mr. Peabody and Sherman” Film Review: A Cute Twist on Today’s Modern Family

A cute, 3-D CGI animated adaption of “Peabody’s Probable History” segments from the 1959-1964 series “Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” does not disappoint. While this film is aimed toward a family audience, its crossover appeal to adults with “old school” witty jargon makes it a winner. However, if you are looking for a direct adaption of the 1960s segments in this movie, you will be disappointed.

Like the original “Peabody’s Probable History” segments, Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell) is a dog who received his degree from Harvard, was the “valec-dogtorian,” won the Nobel Peace Prize, and ultimately devoted himself to helping mankind after not being adopted. His accomplishments include the pioneering of new techniques in alternative energy, resolving geopolitical conflicts around the world, and inventing the fist pump, planking, zumba, and tear-away pants. Most of all, he’s a proud father to his adopted human son, Sherman.

This strong father/son relationship is what differs from the relationship seen in the original 1960s segments, which was primarily a pet/owner relationship. A twist on a modern day alternative family, “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” opens dialogues for commentary on the acceptance of today’s contemporary families. Some might relate this movie to the TV comedy “Modern Family,” as its cast members also provide voiceovers for characters in the movie (Max Charles plays Sherman and Aerial Winter plays Penny Peterson). Not to be confused with the TV comedy, “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” is subtler and affirms the importance of the family dynamic, as well as the need to recognize a child’s independence.

Dealing with today’s everyday school-aged problems, Sherman is bullied at school by his classmate, Penny Peterson, for being smart. Penny calls Sherman a dog, and he retaliates by biting her. In compliance with school code, the incident is investigated by Ms. Grunion, who feels that Sherman’s home environment is not suitable. As a result, she threatens to remove Sherman from his home. However, before making these arrangements, she must make a home visit.

In an effort to keep Sherman, his genius father crafts a plan to show that he’s a suitable parent. With the pressures of school and life, Sherman retaliates and messes up his father’s plan when he and Penny decide to use Mr. Peabody’s time travel invention, the WABAC, for an adventure. During the adventure, they travel through different periods in world history. Throughout this adventure, the audience is presented with both historical, life, and family lessons, but with tons of fun and puns.

Written by Craig Wright and directed by “The Lion King” director, Rob Minkoff, this movie will captivate you and make you laugh. While critics from the Washington Post and New York Times give the movie one star, I give the PG-rated “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” three stars.