out of Five
Running time: 93
Charming, inventive and very funny, this is a hugely entertaining adventure that should appeal to both adults and children, thanks to a witty script, a superb voice cast, lively animation and some impressive 3D effects.
What's it all about?
Directed by Rob Minkoff (The Lion King), Mr Peabody & Sherman is based on the classic 1960s cartoon series about genius inventor dog Mr Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell) and his adopted young son Sherman (Max Charles). When Sherman takes their time machine on a joyride to impress his classmate Penny (Ariel Winter), they quickly run into trouble in ancient Egypt, forcing Mr Peabody to come to their rescue. However, their route home gets unexpectedly complicated and they have a series of adventure-filled pit-stops in Renaissance Italy and during the siege of Troy before accidentally causing a rip in the space-time continuum that threatens to destroy contemporary New York.
The animation is colourful and inventive throughout, with appealing character designs and beautifully rendered set-pieces, such as Sherman and Penny taking Da Vinci's flying machine for a spin or the time travel sequences. These are heightened by some terrific 3D effects that give depth to the visuals but also have a lot of fun with sticking various pointy objects (spears, swords, etc.) in the audience's faces every so often.
Director Minkoff ensures that the film moves at a lively pace and the witty script is packed with visual and verbal jokes for both adults and children - it's also very heavy on groan-worthy puns, which should please fans of the original show. On top of that, the voicework is excellent, with Tyrell, Charles and Winter all injecting their characters with colourful personalities and some enjoyable comic
support work from seasoned performers such as Stephen Colbert (as Penny's dad), Leslie Mann (Penny's mum), Patrick Warburton (Agamemnon) and Allison Janney as dog-hating social worker Miss Grunion.
In addition to being frequently laugh-out-loud funny, the film also manages to be both educational (the script is careful to get the history right, at least) and powerfully emotional (the father-son relationship is genuinely touching and the bullying scene is actually quite upsetting). Indeed, the only real problem with the film is that it sends a slightly mixed message about violence (Mr Peabody and Sherman both get into trouble for biting), while the climax isn't quite as neat as it could have been, though those are both small niggles that don't impact on the film overall.
Mr Peabody & Sherman is a hugely enjoyable adventure that's a treat for the whole family, thanks to likeable characters, lively direction, appealing animation and a witty script that's simultaneously educational, emotionally engaging and laugh-out-loud funny. Highly recommended.