By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest) and James Robert Shaw (The Wind up Geek)
E: I’ve seen nearly every Jay Ward product reimagined for the big screen, and from the best to worst, I’d say Mr. Peabody and Sherman ranks second on my list. It’s tough to outdo Dudley Do-Right when I think Brendan Fraser is perfect for the bumbling Mountie.
J: Although the original has a definite charm to it, this updated product isn’t far off the mark. In the original you get a sense Sherman and Mr. Peabody are family. The relationship is played more for laughs but in this updated product the message is more blatant.
E: And that makes this film perfect for a family outing. The kids can be charmed by the colourful visuals and adults can laugh at the puns that Mr. Peabody is often fond of cracking. A bit of the ha-ha’s feel a bit misplaced, like having people falling out of the rear of many a beast, so I had to wonder just who the target audience is.
J: The target audience is definitely children. This movie feels like it is a faster pace than the original segments from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. But even with that in mind, it is still slow compared to Disney’s last Winnie-the-Pooh featured outing. It was like watching Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends after they consumed too much candy.
E: Although James and I saw this movie in 2D, my brain was being made dizzy by some obvious 3D intent renderings to really make the cinematography explode on the big screen. That’s just one of my misgivings about this film. Can anyone make a movie and not be bothered by this “fad?” I’m sure all of that would look good, but it was a distraction for me. I did not mind the pharaonic pokes at Egyptian culture since I’m a budding Egyptologist and just how all of history gets wrapped up in the greater plot made me wonder which particular paradox had to be resolved so the time-space continuum can resolve itself so that a sequel can continue. Even Penny, the new character added to this series, is probably just as confused too.
J: There were some voice actors who stood out, Ty Burrell did a great job sounding like the original Peabody (Walter Tetley). And maybe it’s the writers or maybe it’s the actor himself but Patrick Warburton stole every scene his character Agamemnon was in. Ariel Winter did a fine job as Penny Peterson, Lauri Fraser was just a giggle as Marie Antoinette and only Stanley Tucci could pull off such a likeable Leonardo Da Vinci. I almost wanted him to be a main character. In fact, with the amount of screen time Leonardo had you could almost call him that. But I have to wonder why Mel Brooks was cast as Albert Einstein. There really wasn’t enough material to justify him being in the film. He was almost a throw away character. Perhaps there will be more offered in the extras when Mr. Peabody and Sherman are released on DVD/Blu-ray. For now, anyone could have voiced Einstein but of all the people who would’ve been cast I’m glad it was Brooks. I am a huge fan of his work.
E: Who knows, depending how successful this film is, there may be more episodes in the works for the small or big screen. That’s tough to say. Nearly every CGI movie made these days are spawning sequels on some front. TURBO has an exclusive available on Netflix, so the sky is the limit. In this case, just what new adventures will Mr. Peabody and Sherman undertake? Will the Ward estate approve it? When Tiffany Ward was on hand as executive producer to ensure the integrity of the movie product, maybe she will be on board for more episodes to come. The movie tries haphazardly to stitch the one-off cartoons into a narrative but perhaps whats truly needed are new adventures.
3½ out of 5 stars.