The Assholes are too young to feel nostalgic about this movie. I can’t comment on how it stands up to the original stuff, I can only say how I felt about it as a stand-alone movie starring characters that I first heard about in 2014.
I take it that the source material, 4-minute shorts contained as a side piece to the Rocky & Bullwinkle show, was one of the first “ironic” cartoons made for kids. But in 2014, snarkiness is now a fait accompli if an animated movie is going to be have much success at the box office, and by that standard, Mr. Peabody and Sherman is actually quite innocent.
Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell) is exceptional. He’s a genius, and an Olympian, a Nobel-Prize recipient, and Harvard know-it-all (he was valeDOGtorian, in fact). Finally he’s found himself an actual challenge: raising his adopted (human) son, Sherman, who mysteriously calls his father Mr. Peabody. We are treated to a little montage of their lives together thus far (set sweetly to John Lennon’s Beautiful Boy). And then launched into plot: Sherman is 7 now, and attending school where he is bullied. He gets into a fight with the bully and bites her. Mr. Peabody is very surprised at this behaviour and learns that the intolerable thing that the bully has accused Sherman of being is – a dog. That little moment is a delight in animation. We can read the hurt on both their faces – the father and his pain at being the thing that his son cannot stand, and the son and his shame for wanting so badly to not be like his father. If only the movie could provide us with more such moments.
Alas, it’s time for the action. And in case you didn’t guess, Mr. Peabody, genius inventor, has a secret time machine that allows him to teach his son about history and the world first-hand. But when left alone with the bully, who just happens to be a cute blonde, nerdy little Sherman tries to win her affection by spilling the secret, and like that, they’re off to Ancient Egypt where complications await them.
It’s basically a sweet film, great for kids, and it’s hard to argue against a talking dog. It’s just that this dog has no bark, and no bite. He’s all bowties and cuddles. Pop this one into the DVD player for the kids, and go have a martini all to yourself.