Kid Tested – Uncle Approved: Mr. Peabody and Sherman (2014)

First published in the Holyoke Enterprise 4/2/15

peabody1.jpg

Hollywood loves remaking things. If it was popular once, it has to work a second time, right?

No. The answer is usually a resounding no.

When I first heard about Mr. Peabody and Sherman, my first thought was WHY? These are characters that first appeared in the late 1950s on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show in a segment called “Peabody’s Improbable History”, where he and Sherman would travel back through time to famous historical moments as a teaching tool for children. I remember the segments being funny because they’d be just enough history to get the point across, then they’d turn silly and end with Mr. Peabody making a bad pun.

All that sounds ripe for a 3D animated feature, doesn’t it?

I was very quickly bored watching this (and I watched that Tinkerbell movie a few weeks back). The animation is great and the voice cast is chock-full of great actors, but it’s incredibly un-funny. Basing a modern story on such dated characters was their first mistake, mostly because the relationship between Mr. Peabody and Sherman was never meant to be father and son, but more tutor and pupil. The fact that Sherman must refer to him as “Mr. Peabody” rather than anything familiar is off-putting. But that’s the 50s for you, I guess…

They do a decent job of recreating the fun of the “Improbable History” segments when we actually do travel back in time, but the jokes are awful and both over the heads of kids and too low-brow for adults. I’m not sure who the audience should have been. The only few things I even chuckled at were a handful of poop jokes, a pun about time travel paradoxes that is unfit to print out of context, and a Spartacus reference in the last 10 minutes of the movie. Spartacus, for those who don’t know, was a film that came out in 1960. That’s almost one Steve Hayes, to anybody counting. An obvious choice for a joke in a film…for children.

 

Each scene felt like a mini-episode within the film, piling on as many one-liners and quippy puns as they could muster. There were times when I wanted to laugh – I really did – but the jokes just didn’t work. The funniest part of the movie was anytime Agamemnon (voiced by the great Patrick Warburton) was on screen. And even then, his jokes felt like they should have been followed by a cheesy rim-shot sound effect.

They also did an okay job establishing the science of the time travel, but being a time travel buff (Back to the Future, Doctor Who, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, etc.), their “science” felt like a load of hooey to me. Hooey, I tell ya!

Did I enjoy it? No. Would I recommend it? No. Did Netflix think I’d like it? Yes.

We need to have a talk, Netflix…

 

2 out of 5

Rating: Two out of five Snack Packs

 

 

Lincoln L. Hayes is a former writer and columnist of the Holyoke Enterprise. He lives in New York City where he is pursuing an acting and filmmaking career. Follow his work at www.lincolnlhayes.com.

 

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