Mr Peabody & Sherman

Mr Peabody and Sherman
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Director: Rob Minkoff
Cert: G
Genre: Animation
Starring: Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Patrick Warburton
Running Time: 1 hr 32 mins

Well, this sounds like an impressively terrible idea for a family film. The title characters – an urbane dog and his perky adopted human son – first appeared as a segment in the 1960s US cartoon series The Rocky and Bulwinkle Show (best known here for inspiring a notorious 2000 film that accelerated Robert De Niro's precipitous decline into Hogwash Gulch).

There’s worse news. Apparently the original cartoons were intended as an “educational” diversion. Good news, children. Two characters you’ve never heard of are set to headline an entertainment that seeks to do you good. Where’s everybody gone?

Against the odds, Rob Minkoff, director of The Lion King, has delivered one of the new year's most amusing films. Featuring a script studded with good-bad puns, Mr Peabody & Sherman is energetic, thoughtful and genuinely touching.

In truth, the film is not much more educational than Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure or Back to the Future. But it is nice to welcome a kids' entertainment that features roles for Agamemnon, Leonardo da Vinci and Robespierre. Heck, the film deserves an extra star merely for allowing Mel Brooks to voice Einstein. You don't get that from Pokémon.


As you may have gathered, Mr Peabody & Sherman is a time-travel affair. Mr Peabody, the brightest dog in the world, can cook like Escoffier, play the guitar like Hendrix and philosophise like Wittgenstein. He has also found time to invent the WABAC (pronounced "wayback") machine, which allows journeys to any time in human history.

Mr Peabody’s charming son Sherman manages to misuse the device on the very evening that social services are calling round to decide whether a dog really can successfully parent a human boy (a reasonable question, to be fair).

Splendid voice work from the likes of Patrick Warburton, Stanley Tucci and Stephen Colbert accompanies inevitable disturbances in the space-time continuum, which triggers one of the great rallying lines in recent cinema. "We must rewrite history in order to save the universe!" Mr Peabody barks.

Can we have a sequel soon please?

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist