Mr. Peabody, the most accomplished dog in the world, and his mischievous boy Sherman, use their time machine - the WABAC - to go on the most outrageous adventures known to man or dog. But when Sherman takes the WABAC out for a joyride to impress his friend Penny, they accidentally rip a hole in the universe, wreaking havoc on the most important events in world history. Before they forever alter the past, present and future, Mr. Peabody must come to their rescue, ultimately facing the most daunting challenge of any era: figuring out how to be a parent. Together, the time traveling trio will make their mark on history.
The untrue notion that "there are no original ideas in Hollywood anymore" is fueled by many things, one of them being lifeless attempts at rebooting series that have absolutely no relevance or need to be rebooted. 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman' is the perfect example. Most people under the age of 35 have never even heard of the two titular characters, let alone their significance in history. Why do I place that age at 35? Because I'm (barely) under 35 and I didn't know that 'Peabody & Sherman' was a previously established property until my "old man" told me that he used to watch it. I grew up watching an exorbitant amount of cartoons – some (then) new, some old – but 'Rocky & Bullwinkle,' which is where the 'Peabody' shorts were born, wasn't one of them. Perhaps 20th Century Fox decided that it was time to introduce a new generation to the duo that their grandparents watched. Perhaps they wanted to make a movie that Grandma and Grandpa would be excited to take their grand kids to. If that was their motive in making 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman,' despite having the best intentions, they surely didn't put much into it.
The titular Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell from TV's 'Modern Family') is a genuis dog whose intelligence is not only greater that all other canines, but higher than that of most humans. Imagine Brian from 'Family Guy,' only without the alcohol problem, potty mouth and dirty mind. As we're shown in a flashback later in the movie, Peabody adopted a human boy named Sherman. Despite the species barrier and differing intelligence, the two have a wonderful time together. Like Bill and Ted, they travel through the circuits of time in a machine called the WABAC (pronounced "way back"), seeing history unfold and meeting the people named in history books.
After a long build up, Peabody throws a wrench into the family's gears when he invites Sherman's bully, Penny, and her parents over for dinner. As Peabody entertains the parents, Sherman struggles to get the bully to back down, so in a last-ditch moment of desperation, he breaks Peabody's rule and shows Penny the WABAC. Of course, she wants to experience it, so the two go on a solo trip through time and get into trouble. When Sherman gets in over his head, he runs home to get help from Peabody. Together, the two of them must restore order to history and bring Penny home without destroying the space time continuum.
While time travel is always fun, the way that 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman' rolls it out isn't very entertaining. Instead of pulling the audience in and making it a fun experience, the story unfolds in an "and then..." manner. There's absolutely no flow. It's a run-on sentence. Peabody and Sherman go back to save Penny, <em>and then</em> the WABAC runs out of juice, <em>and then</em> they have to find a way to get back home, <em>and then...</em>
'Mr. Peabody & Sherman' strikes out from the get-go with potty humor jokes one after the other. Like Peabody's own bland puns, much of the comedy falls flat. The gags that actually do work aren't enough to keep it afloat. And while the second half is much more entertaining that the first, it's too little, too late.
I enjoy a good kids movie. And while my kids enjoy 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman,' I can't say the same. It's not the type of animated flick that I'd happily watch with them. It's the kind of kid movie that they're welcome to watch in the other room while I type. When they're ready to watch an older Pixar or Laika movie, then I'll put the laptop down and join them, but this one they can burn themselves out on all alone.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
The 2D release of 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman' comes with a BD-50, a DVD and a code for either an iTunes or Ultraviolet digital copy. The discs are housed in a two-disc Elite keepcase that comes with a cheap slipcover and a paper containing coupons for Chuck E. Cheese's, Pretzel Crisps, Gaylord Hotels and Coastal.com. Upon popping the disc in, an unskippable Fox vanity reel is followed by skippable trailers for 'Penguins of Madagascar,' 'Rio 2' and 'How to Train Your Dragon 2.'
'Mr. Peabody & Sherman' arrives on Blu-ray with a very nice 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. While the picture quality is strong, compared to most other computer-animated family flicks out there, it's lagging behind just a little bit.
Thanks to demo-worthy Blu-ray releases from Disney and Pixar, animation that is not highly detailed is noticeably lacking. Such is the case with 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman.' For the most part, the fault lies in mediocre animation. Despite being a hair-covered mammal, Peabody sadly carries little texture. The edges of his fur show cartoonish qualities, but that's it. There aren't any fine details to his fur. Hair on the human characters is visible, but not as fine and impressive as we've become used to. For the most part, details just aren't there. Desert sand appears smooth and textureless. Leaf covered trees aren't very defined; however, throughout the movie, as the settings call for it, tiny specs of dust hover through the air. If the animators were able to be put these nice details into the quality, then why couldn't they do the same with the rest of the video?
After all of this complaining, know that there's really nothing wrong with the video quality. Aside from weak animation, there's nothing to complain about. It's clear, sharp, colorful and free of flaws. There are many instances that could have resulted in bands, but they're not there.
'Mr. Peabody & Sherman' has been given a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. While the CG animated video quality doesn't live up to expectations, the 7.1 mix absolutely does. It's entirely dynamic and purely fun.
Of all the noteworthy aspects of the audio mix, my favorite is the music. Be it the running score by Danny Elfman or the wonderful John Lennon track "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)," all music carries a gorgeous dynamic feel that's spread throughout the channels so perfectly that I cannot think of another disc that's mixed this well.
Too many kids movies these days "stunt cast" their main vocal roles just to have some names to slap onto the posters and trailers. While that's not always a bad thing, too many times the big names can't perform like professional voice actors can. 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman' doesn't feature a known stunt cast, it's full of highly talented voice actors and the vocal mix truly shows off what these mostly unknown actors are capable of. Dialog is consistently clear, full and rich.
The effects mixing in 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman' is top notch. There's a world of sound effects to behold within it, all of which are just as dynamically mixed as the music, making for a stellar aural experience. There are layers upon layers of effects to hear, all of which are perfectly audible. Collectively, they create larger-than-life sounds that seamlessly image around the room, accent actions as necessary and constantly create effective ambiance.
If you grew up on the 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman' shorts attached to old episodes of 'Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends,' then you'll probably have an enjoyable nostalgic walk down memory lane with 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman.' If not, then you'll likely find it dry, lifeless, and slow. But the most important thing is that your kids or grandkids will probably love it. The Blu-ray's video quality is fantastic, but the mildly detailed animation isn't up to snuff. On the other hand, the 7.1 audio mix is brilliant. The standard special features are sub-par, but the many Blu-ray-exclusive special features are pretty solid. All in all, the 'Peabody' Blu-ray release is fantastic. If only the movie itself was better.