'Mr. Peabody & Sherman': Set apart from 'kiddie' movies

Mr. Peabody & Sherman has a lot of charm, just one of the things that sets it apart from most...

Mr. Peabody & Sherman has a lot of charm, just one of the things that sets it apart from most 'kiddie' movies. (QMI Agency Files)

Rating

3.5 Stars3.5/5

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:37 PM ET

Mr. Peabody & Sherman has a lot of charm, just one of the things that sets it apart from most 'kiddie' movies.

Make that far apart -- the film is also smart and funny.

Fans of the 1960s Rocky & Bullwinkle TV show will already be familiar with Mr. Peabody, a towering intellect with an endless appetite for puns. Peabody is a multi-lingual, Nobel prize winning genius who has invented a time machine, and the fact that he's a dog is almost beside the point. Almost.

Having no family, Mr. Peabody (voice of Ty Burrell) adopts a little boy named Sherman (Max Charles). A boy and his dog is one thing; a dog and his boy is quite another, namely, a terrific set-up for some father and son emotion.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman travel back in time in that wonderful machine, the WABAC, for hands-on history lessons. It's all 3D fun and games until Sherman is old enough to go to school.

There, Sherman meets his nemesis: a junior mean girl named Penny Peterson (Ariel Winter). Penny is jealous of Sherman's superior knowledge of history, so she teases him mercilessly about having a dog for a father. In an attempt to impress Penny, Sherman shows her the WABAC machine, launching a series of wild and often dangerous adventures that take the kids through ancient Egypt, through Florence, Italy during the Renaissance, and then into the heart of the Trojan War.

Mr. Peabody steps in to rescue them; he learns about parenting and letting go, even as Sherman learns about taking responsibility and growing up. These dramatic elements, so often a preachy buzzkill in kids' movies, blend seamlessly with the film's action and comedy.

Bravo, director Rob Minkoff (The Lion King).

Full of clever visual humour, witty wordplay and terrible puns, Mr. Peabody & Sherman never talks down to its young audience. The movie is often visually dazzling, not always the case with computer animation; given the sci-fi time-travel wrinkle, 3D makes perfect sense. The storytelling is energetic and endlessly entertaining, and without benefit of that manic carry-on that characterizes too many animated films. Children's amusements often use frantic, jokey filler to attempt to bolster weak content, but there's none of that here.

A well-wrought screenplay and lovely vocal performances -- Max Charles is delightful as the innocent Sherman -- make Mr. Peabody & Sherman a sure bet for both kids and the adults who accompany them.


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