Twitter Plot Summary: Mr Peabody and his son Sherman go on adventure through time, instigated by girl bully Penny.
Five Point Summary:
1. A dog who adopts a boy? Gadzooks.
2. He’s clearly not a dog. Silly girl.
3. An air of 300 to that sequence in Troy.
4. Could this be the end of Mr Peabody?
5. I’m Spartacus!
Okay then, let’s whizz through the backstory of Mr Peabody & Sherman so we can get on with the juicy details. Mr Peabody is a ridiculously clever dog (he’s responsible for the invention of zumba, don’t you know) who eventually decides that, after his many years of being absolutely awesome at everything, decides to adopt a human boy. Thankfully we don’t dwell on this point for too long (nor do we dwell on the fact that Mr Peabody is the only talking dog in a world full of humans who don’t bat an eyelid about this situation), and soon Sherman has grown up and is about to start school. There he encounters a girl called Penny who bullies him about his adoptive father being a dog, which results in Mr Peabody inviting Penny and her parents around for dinner.
Of course, things don’t go smoothly. Whilst Peabody is successfully entertaining the parents, Sherman lets slip that Mr Peabody has invented a machine called the WABAC (way back – geddit?), a time machine that can take them anywhere in time and space. Events occur, shall we say, and it’s then up to Mr Peabody to help restore the timeline, etc etc. What follows is a trip throughout history as Mr Peabody, Sherman and Penny travelling through time so they can get back home, encountering a plethora of famous historical figures as they do so.
Hmm, that intro was a little more verbose than planned, but I think it’s necessary to get all of that firmly in place before we can talk about the film properly. As a story in its own right it kind of works, but we spend far too little time with the historical characters to learn much about them, and the central narrative itself whizzes along at too fast a pace for any specific moments – other than Patrick Warburton stealing the scene as King Agamemnon at Troy – to stand out. On the positive side, the jokes are fantastic, and don’t talk down to any aspect of its audience – in that respect it’s a true family film in that some jokes will be over the head of its younger audience but then a character will do something silly and everyone’s happy. The core story itself is also a touch slight, but to focus too much on that aspect would be churlish. If you think about the target audience, it’s never going to be an amazingly detailed story.
To say that everything works out for everybody involved would be accurate, but missing the point somewhat. Let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be much of a kid’s film if nobody learned anything – in this case tolerance – by the finale. Talking of which, the final act is a little one note but it does at least tie up all the narrative threads, even if it does so in a slightly clumsy manner. Still, having gone in completely ignorant of the character’s origins in the 1960s Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, I’m pleased to confirm that you don’t need previous knowledge of that series to enjoy this modern interpretation.