Based off of the The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show segments, Mr. Peabody and Sherman is an animated film about a hyper-intelligent dog who decides to adopt a boy. Using a time machine he calls the “WABAC”, Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell) takes Sherman (Max Charles) back in time so he can experience history first hand (something I wish I could do as I study for my APUSH final). However, on the first day of school, Sherman is ridiculed by his classmate, Penny (Ariel Winter), prompting Sherman to bite her. This leads to an annoyingly obvious civil rights metaphor as a bigoted Ms. Grunion (Allison Janney) tries to take Sherman away from Mr. Peabody, claiming a dog can’t take care of a child.
There are a lot of history jokes in this movie. A lot of puns as well. While there’s generally nothing worth more than a chuckle, it’s a refreshing change of pace from the lazy brand of humor you see in the majority of kids films. Most of the movie’s gags wear out their welcome fairly quickly, but the fast pace of the film prevents that from being too much of a problem. Similar to many other movies with time travel as a crucial plot element, things don’t make a lot of sense. This is especially troublesome for Mr. Peabody and Sherman, but if you don’t think about it too much, the story becomes mildly entertaining. The movie certainly isn’t going for a plot that makes too much sense.
Ty Burrell is charming as the talking dog, but the real star of the show is 10-year-old Max Charles. Generally, a performance by a child actor is a painful experience, but Charles’s performance as Sherman was so effortless I thought they might have gotten an adult to voice the child. The film doesn’t waste it’s historical figures either. Patrick Warburton and Stanley Tucci both have delightful supporting roles as Agamemnon and Leonardo Da Vinci, respectively. Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, and Mel Brooks also make brief appearances.
The animation is reminiscent of other Dreamworks movies, such as How to Train Your Dragon (2010), Megamind (2010), and The Croods (2013), and it’s on par with what we’ve come to expect from the studio. The movie as a whole is enjoyable, albeit forgettable. Many of the gags quickly get old, the themes are thrust in your face, and the pacing is uneven, but nonetheless, Mr. Peabody and Sherman is still a relatively good time. 6/10.