Before starting this review I must own up that I am not the biggest fan of most DreamWorks comedies. Their broad parody-based approach usually doesn’t do it for me. That may be part of the reason why I found 2014’s Mr. Peabody and Sherman to be such a pleasant surprise. It does the very difficult task of updating a vintage property for modern audiences and has a script that is consistently hilarious.
Mr. Peabody and Sherman originally appeared as Mr. Peabody in the 1950s-60s as part of the television show The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. These were short “Peabody’s Improbable History” segments where a genius dog named Mr. Peabody and a boy named Sherman went through time using a device called the WABAC. These episodes were fun because of Mr. Peabody’s dry wit contrasting with the more innocent Sherman.
This is essentially what we get in the feature film. Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell) is Sherman’s (Max Charles) guardian and he cares about the boy but has a difficult time expressing his emotions. Sherman is defensive about Mr. Peabody and one day gets in a fight with a schoolmate named Penny (Ariel Winter). To try and smooth things over Mr. Peabody invites Penny’s parents over for dinner (Stephen Colbert and Leslie Mann). Unfortunately Sherman decides to show Penny the WABAC and all kinds of shenanigans happen throughout time.
I do enjoy the animation especially the slick look of the WABAC and the Funko-like design of the characters but what really makes me enjoy Mr. Peabody and Sherman is the script. The humor, although a super subjective point, kept me laughing throughout the film, even after multiple rewatches.
Some of my favorite jokes are:
“It’s not fair. All my friends are fighting in the Trojan War.”
“And don’t even get me started on Oedipus. Needless to say you do not want to be at his house over the holidays.”
Mr. Peabody: “In my opinion they get married way to young in Ancient Egypt or perhaps I’m just some old Giza.”
“But we’ve already paid for the catering” (about giving up the sacrificial offering)
Mr. Peabody: “TOO BAD. You are going to lose your deposit.”
“I was talking to the Sun God Ra the other day and he told me he changed his mind. Old Flip Flop Ra we call him here in the Underworld.”
“Oy again with the plagues. Why did we move to Egypt again?”
Penny: “Can it go back to an hour ago? … Because I could take it home, pretend to be sick and not come to this lame dinner party.”
Sherman: “Mr Peabody I hate her.”
Mr Peabody: “Every relationship starts from a point of conflict and evolves into something richer”
Mr. Peabody (to Sherman): “This kind of wanton violence is totally unacceptable and rather uncharacteristic given how you feel about Mr Gandhi.”
Mr. Peabody to Marie Antoinette: “You can’t have your cake and edict too.”
“Who dares insult me with this melon!”
The story of Mr. Peabody and Sherman doesn’t break the mold. It’s a fun time travel adventure similar to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure or Time Bandits. It comes down to whether you find it funny or not, and I do.Ty Burrell is also brilliant in his voice work as Mr Peabody, as are the other talent involved, but it still comes down to the jokes.
What do you think of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and what is your favorite DreamWorks comedy?
Edited by Kajsa Rain Forden