This time travel thingy isn’t that bad. If THIS is what we get out of it, fracture the space-time continuum all you want. Mr. Peabody & Sherman – a film born out such a fracture – is a quaint little charmer of a film with heart, chuckle-some wit and canny, perceptive dialogues overrun with such delightful glee and invention: it makes history sound fascinating. And the puns from a dog’s mouth crackle with sharpness instead of falling flat.
This prodigiously funny Dreamworks offering is based on ‘Peabody’s Improbable History” from the TV series “Rocky and Friends” produced by Jay Ward. Mr. Peabody is a genius scientist, inventor, master-chef, a multi-linguist pedantic. And a dog. He lives with his adopted son – a bespectacled boy wonder with spiky red hair – called Sherman. Peabody has a time machine called WABAC (“way back”) through which Sherman is taught the lessons of history, culture, morality and everything in between. The film launches into an adventure when Sherman uses the WABAC without Peabody’s permission to settle an argument with a classmate (Penny) about George Washington. What follows has us grasping our tummies through a bountiful of hilarious mishaps coupled with clever puns and a razzle-dazzle of poppy, richly animated set-pieces from history.
When the film is not rattling the cages of geniuses fallen to the decay or risen to the apex of their careers, it careens from being explosively imaginative to shrewdly quirky and even instructive; the references pouring in like rain from a shattered roof. Ty Burrell (Mr Peabody) and Max Charles (Sherman) dip their voices into their sublime characters and make for a wonderfully weird father-son duo. Over the course of their misadventures we have an absurd concoction of people like Stanley Tucci as Da Vinci and Mel Brooks as Albert Einstein. We also have the presence of Abraham Lincoln, Mona Lisa, Odysseus, Bill Clinton, Gandhi and Newton lapping across the riotous canvas of the narrative’s wacky idiosyncrasy. Paired with Danny Elfman’s background score, it is impossible not to be enthralled by the total insanity of it all.
French Revolution, the Trojan War, Ancient Egypt, Renaissance Italy: I’ve enjoyed watching history being ripped apart into uproarious anecdotes presented with warmth. It is time you did the same. Mr. Peabody & Sherman is the dogfather of all comedies. Woof.