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Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is just okay. It looks good. The voice actors are excellent. But the film isn’t clever. And, worse, it’s not particularly funny.

Maybe I expected more because Dreamworks animation has a strong track record (Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, etc.) Maybe it’s because the recent The Lego Movie raised the bar for animated films.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is based on a segment from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Those bits on the TV show employed primitive animation, but they were well written. They dripped with silly, funny cleverness. And horrible puns. Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell of Modern Family) shares a few bad puns but they’re perfunctory.

Burrell’s voice work is spot on. (An early choice for this voice gig was Robert Downey Jr.) The child who voices Peabody’s adoptive boy Sherman (Max Charles) does a nice job, but often he sounds more like Rocky the Flying Squirrel.

The movie’s story has Sherman starting school and getting into a fight with classmate Penny (another Modern Family cast member, Ariel Winter). To resolve the issue, Peabody invites Penny and her parents (Steven Colbert and Leslie Mann) over for dinner.

When the kids are sent off to visit together, Sherman invites Penny to check out the WABAC machine. After Peabody hypnotizes the parents into a trance, he joins Sherman and Penny on trips back to the French Revolution, ancient Egypt, etc. They also drop in on Leonardo DaVinci. As mentioned, these segments look great, but their content fails to sizzle.

The film’s resolution has to do with the use of some voodoo physics to correct a time travel induced problem. Thankfully, these last few minutes of the movie manage to offer some of its funnier content.

A highlight of Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a sequence on Sherman set to John Lennon’s song “Beautiful Boy.”

For younger generations who may be less familiar with the TV version of Mr. Peabody & Sherman, the movie version may rock. But for me, a boomer who has watched them most of my life, Mr. Peabody & Sherman is okay. But it should’ve been better.

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