With Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Dreamworks Animation sets its Wayback Machine to the early 1960s and charmingly revives one of the most popular features of the old Rocky & Bullwinkle Show the one about a dog and his boy.
This winning, witty and warm cartoon captures the flavor, the tone and some of the snappy pace of the TV shorts that began with the droll voice of Bill Scott intoning, Peabody here, my boy, Sherman
Mr. Peabody is a Nobel Prize-winning pooch who invented the fist-bump, auto-tune and Zumba, and then adopted Sherman. Hes given the boy, now 7, a head-start on school by taking the kid time-traveling. The Wayback Machine has, we can see from the photos decorating their apartment walls, allowed Sherman to meet everyone from Gandhi to Einstein, Leonardo to the Wright Brothers. Hes given Van Gogh painting suggestions, caught a Jackie Robinson home run and short-circuited Ben Franklin.
Where are we going today, Mr. Peabody?
Not where, Sherman. When.
As long as Sherman keeps this a secret, nobody will be the wiser as to why he knows, for a fact, that George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree. Of course, Sherman cant keep a secret not even from the mean girl, Penny, who bullies him.
And thats when the trouble starts. Actually, the first when is ancient Egypt. Then they check in on Leonardo Da Vinci and try to make Mona Lisa crack a smile. The movie drops in on The Trojan War.
Fans of the old Jay Ward TV show may take longer in adjusting to the new voices. But the witty word play and the pull-out-all-stops supporting cast start to pay off.
Patrick Warburton is WAY over the top as the Greek King Agamemnon, Stanley Tuccis fractured Italian make him the perfect Leonardo, Mel Brooks is Einstein, and so on.
The movie takes a while to find its footing, but then the laughs come.
The animated details of this Rob Minkoff (The Lion King) comedy are a 3-D feast for the eyes. The canvas wings of a Da Vinci glider ripple in the breeze, and when Peabody entertains Pennys parents (Leslie Mann, Stephen Colbert, a hoot) with a little Jimi Hendrix, he even plays Jimis Fender upside down.
Kids will dig the slapstick and giggle at what flies out of the Sphinxs butt. Adults will be tickled at the usual Dreamworks parade of one-liners and will feel a little sentimental.