“If a boy can have a dog, a dog should be able to have a boy.”
That’s the judge’s wise ruling that grants Mr. Peabody, the world-renowned genius, captain of industry and canine Nobel Laureate, the right to adopt his boy, Sherman, in the new film "Mr. Peabody and Sherman."
Is this a great country, or what?
From high above the city in a posh penthouse, Sherman has not only been the beneficiary of his adoptive father’s incredible intellect, he’s had the tutoring of many of the notable innovators from history thanks to Peabody’s crowning achievement — the WABAC machine!
Sherman, of course, also attends public school and, inadvertently, he ends up making an enemy of little Penny Petersen when he takes the wind out of her sails during a class discussion of history.
The tensions escalate as she tries to get even by teasing Sherman about his four-legged father. She taunts him, saying, “Your father is a dog so you must be a dog” and proceeds to throw a tuna sandwich to be fetched. Penny succeeds in pushing our little hero over the edge and he bites her.
Summoned to the principal’s office, Mr. Peabody learns of his boy’s transgression. He’s informed by the school’s social worker, Ms. Grunion, that she’ll be dropping by for a home inspection. If she’s not satisfied, Sherman will be taken away.
Peabody decides to be proactive and invites the Petersen family over for dinner. Things go quite well with the skeptical parents, but the chill between the kids seems insurmountable. They start to argue, and that’s when Sherman blurts out the secret of the WABAC machine.
What follows is a perilous romp through history that includes ancient Egypt, a peek into the Trojan horse, a tuneup of the WABAC machine with a little help from Leonardo da Vinci and ... well, the list goes on, as Mr. Peabody tries to iron out time-continuum issues and threats to the kids, all while trying to salvage the evening with the Petersens and keep Ms. Grunion from taking away his boy. Whew!
Based on the characters created by Jay Ward, this treatment is clever and respectful of the legacy while certainly taking “modern” license. Just as in the original cartoons, some of the humor will only resonate with adults, while the bulk of the storyline and images are tailored to hit the kids at eye level, including quite a repertoire of scatological and treehouse humor.
I liked the original episodes included in “Rocky and His Friends” back in the day, and I like this latest effort, too. “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” gets 3 stars and is rated PG.