Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mr. Peabody & Sherman ★★

    Dreamworks' "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" is a children's film that gives rise to a curious notion-- that seemingly anything can be made into a 90-minute production. Just imagine: A subset of a popular 1960s animated television show, in which the duration of the segments were incredibly short, becoming a full-featured adventure. Well, considering the mindset of modern-day production companies, this idea surely meets the established criteria.

    Not to give off the impression that Mr. Peabody isn't a lovable character; let's face it, who can resist the attraction to a dog, who wears glasses and has more knowledge than the most brilliant minds left on Earth, combined. And if you were not already aware, Mr. Peabody reads off his accomplishments and accolades, at the beginning of the picture as if his life depended on it. This includes: being a Harvard graduate, a developer of alternative energy sources, a geopolitical conflict resolver, and inventor of numerous twenty-first-century fads, including Zumba, among other things. (Not to mention the size of his penthouse, which would have even the likes of Donald Trump swimming in a pool of envy.)

    This film essentially relies on the extended use of tawdry humor, including the unamusing puns of Mr. Peabody and the duel injected storyline, which only distracts us from the more heartwarming of the two, being the relationship between a father and son. (if you are in dire need of a plot summary, here it is: Sherman's ineptness causes a rift in time, and it is up to Mr. Peabody to fix it. On a side note, Sherman begins school, and Mr. Peabody must prove to Mrs. Grunion, a cantankerous school official, and terrific illustration of name typing, that he is indeed, fit to be a father.) This complication all leads up to a quip of very poor taste. That's right folks, a masturbation joke.

    And yet, that is not the sole instance in which all insensitivity is lost. There is the use of a Stephen Hawking lunchbox, that warrants the designation of inconsiderate, along with several other witticisms, including the very popular, among adolescents, "poop" and "boob" jokes. They even find time in the script to poke fun at Disney characters, such as Pinocchio, and former President Bill Clinton, as he claims, "I've done worse," in a particular circumstance.    

    The exotic locations, in which we are escorted to, via the WABAC, comprise of France, Egypt, and Italy, all of which are aligned with a time period that would lend the opportunity for educational material. However, this seems to be the hindmost motivation of the picture, and we are left with nothing more than plot driven action, and as mentioned above, bad puns. (It was a staple of the old animated cartoon that Sherman never understood the wordplays; unfortunately for us, we do.)

    "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" fails to capture the quirkiness of the original animation, and completely misses the mark. Although this is not uncommon, when it comes to reboots, it still remains a disappointing condition, especially for those parents who brought their children to the theater, looking for a portion of educational value, and at least, in some sense, tasteful humor. (Just another cause for the live-action television program, entitled "Wishbone," which features a small terrier with a big imagination, to get a re-run deal.)

    There is a scene in which Mr. Peabody reminisces on his first encounters with Sherman, and the affections of the past, accompanied by John Lennon's beloved "Beautiful Boy." It truly is the most promising scene for the entire duration and is regrettably short-lived. If the filmmakers had continued with this idea of presentation, then we would have another discussion altogether.


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