Review: ‘Mr. Peabody & Sherman’ is a so-so time travel movie

"Rocky and Bullwinkle" stars Sherman and Peabody gallivant through Ancient Egypt. Credit: DreamWorks Animation
“Rocky and Bullwinkle” stars Sherman and Peabody gallivant through Ancient Egypt.
Credit: DreamWorks Animation

‘Mr. Peabody & Sherman’
Director: Rob MInkoff
Voices of: Ty Burrell, Max Charles
Rating: PG
2 (out of 5) Globes

The makers of “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” were smart to realize one thing: If you’re going to make a feature length film based on the titular “Rocky and Bullwinkle” segment, you might as well make it a whole hog time travel movie. The shows were little history lessons, with the WABAC Machine the mere device to send the canine braniac and his quizzical adoptee back in time. The movie reverses this. It has very little educational value (same with the show, to be honest). It’s essentially “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” only with more heart.

And therein lies the less smart thing about “Mr. Peabody & Sherman”: “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” already exists, and is much more joyous than anything here. Doing it again only with more life lessons is two unimaginative things rolled into one pricey franchise launcher. Here, boy Sherman (voice of Max Charles) takes the (of course) souped-up Wayback Machine for a joy ride, only to accumulate multiple historical personages. Eventually the film starts cribbing from other time travel pictures. Sherman winds up creating multiple time lines, and with them multiple Shermans.

But as soon as it seems “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” may get really loopy and turn into a kiddie “Primer,” it backs off. Director Rob Minkoff (“The Lion King,” “Stuart Little”) makes it looks handsome, but maybe too handsome. He doesn’t have the madcapness to fully exploit a potentially nutty premise. It has the entirety of history at its disposal, but it can’t give Agamemnon (Patrick Warburton), Mona Lisa (Lake Bell) or even Sigmund Freud (Mel Brooks!) anything to do.

Then again, it has other more serious concerns to get to. The world at large, it turns out, is sort of freaked that a child is being raised by a talking dog (Ty Burrell, doing a not bad approximation of original voice Bill Scott). The slight subversiveness of asking America to be more tolerant of (nudge nudge) alternative parenting, unfortunately, comes off as just another obligatory family movie homily.

On top of that, Peabody has to learn his own obligatory lesson about being emotionally available to the kid he’s raised as his own. If you ever thought that semi-sincere message-mongering has destroyed many a family picture, the wasted potential of “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” will make you want to build your own time machine and do it right before the sequels screw it up as well.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…