Monday, March 10, 2014

Review 248: "Mr. Peabody & Sherman"

He's leaving his mark on history.

Blast from the Past

      Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a 2014 animated film by Dreamworks Animation, based on the Peabody's Improbable History segments of the various Rocky & Bullwinkle shows, the first after Dreamworks acquired Classic Media. Directed by Rob Minkoff (The Lion King) and written by Craig Wright (Various TV episodes), the film follows genius dog Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell), who adopts a human son named Sherman (Max Charles) and takes him on adventures using the WABAC, a time machine he invented. However, when Sherman fights with fellow student Penny (Ariel Winter) and attracts the attention of a social worker (Allison Janney), Mr. Peabody's attempt to fix the situation falls apart when Sherman and Penny go on a time-traveling adventure and accidentally create a time rift.

Ha! That's silly!
School's In

      I'll admit, I didn't particularly like Mr. Peabody & Sherman and even I don't want to give it a bad review. For all the negative things I have to say, there is a immense likability to the film. I liked the characters, I'd watch another movie with them and I felt that this film was at least entertaining. The problem is that it just wasn't educational enough. What? Okay look, Peabody & Sherman is based on a show that never had that much of a story. And the film strains here to give itself a story suitable for the characters and family audiences. And it's just not that good. At all. The best bits of the movie are just Peabody, Sherman and Penny wandering through Ancient Greece, or Ancient Egypt or working with Leonardo da Vinci. And it even feels like that's what the filmmakers wanted, but instead, they have to keep coming back to this tired story, undercutting the film's humor and fun.

Time Suck

      The film's story is literally made up of all the cliches you'd hope wouldn't be in this movie. The bully who turns out to be nice? Check. The social worker as the villain? Check. A recurring insult that later becomes a source of power? Check. They couldn't make a more cliched story unless they had called the film Kid's Time Travel Mania! Plus, the film also tries to fit in an overly-complicated time travel plot. Sure, I expect a time travel film to end with a time rift opening. But the film's explanations as to how they stop it is easily one of the most bafflingly awful ass pulls I've ever seen in a time travel movie. And as the film keeps trying to balance the overly weighty story, the film is unable to get it's best feature across: it's humor. Ultimately, the film is just kinda dull, and it's not funny enough to make up for the story's faults. Sure, the pun's may be lame, and that's a joke, but the film's also lame, and that's no laughing matter/

The Verdict

      Mr. Peabody & Sherman tries hard to balance a ill-advised story with the film's sense of humor and the educational value of the story, but ultimately it ends up falling short. The film's characters are all very likable and I did like the film. But ultimately, I was bored through a lot of the movie and the film's weak and convoluted story is largely to blame. Mr. Peabody & Sherman gets 3 and a half stars out of 6.

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