March 10, 2014
Family Film Blogging: Mr. Peabody and Sherman
Posted by Christine Hurt

It's not The LEGO Movie.  Last Friday, our family took in the opening of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, a movie that suffers from opening in the wake of both LEGO and Frozen, which is still in theaters 3 1/2 months after its premiere.  But, it also suffers from groan-worthy poop jokes.  

That being said, the movie has a lot of fun moments for the history buffs out there -- a sort of animated Night at the Museum.  There are two stories here -- the big-picture story is that local officials are focused on dissolving the adoption of Sherman, a human boy, to Mr. Peabody, a genius dog, who has raised Sherman since he was a foundling.  So, Mr. Sherman must prove to a classmate's parents (Penny's parents) that he is a good father, to throw the family services worker off his scent, so to speak.  Sherman is bullied by Penny at school, and there is a not-quite comfortable cafeteria scene in which Penny humiliates Sherman and calls him a dog with ensuing dog-related taunts.  If this scene wasn't among cute animated second graders, and the bully wasn't a cute girl, it would be really hard to watch.  This primary theme, in case you haven't caught on, is an anthropomorphic cartoon depiction of the too-often contested fact that all families are different and that love is what makes a family, not gender or skin color or sexual preference (or genus species).  The subplot here is out of Finding Nemo -- how much freedom does a loving father give his child so that the child grows in independence and confidence?

The second plot is the one that had the smaller kids rolling (and the mom in front of me).  Faced with having to entertain each other during an adult dinner party, Sherman shows Penny (his nemesis) his father's "Wabac" machine (time machine).  (By the way, the Wabac machine looks exactly like the time machine in Free Birds, down to the reversible hexagonal invisible shields.  Weird.)  Penny, who is much more adventurous than Sherman, taunts him into taking her inside and then going back in time to ancient Egypt.  There, Sherman loses her to King Tut, who wants to make her his bride.  He then has to go back in time, get Mr. Peabody, and go back to rescue her.  That second trip takes them through Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War.  Eventually, time-space continuum problems happen and both plots come to a crisis point with hundreds of historical figures stuck in modern-day New York.  The crisis will be averted and everything will end happy, but it is was a fairly joyful ride to that end.

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