Mr. Peabody & Sherman Blu-ray Review
“If a boy can adopt a dog, I see no reason a dog cannot adopt a boy.” So says the Judge who evaluates Mr. Peabody’s petition to adopt a young boy who was left, orphaned, inside a box in a back alley. While I can’t necessarily agree with the flawless logic (that’s sarcasm folks) of that statement I am grateful producer Jay Ward decided it was a worthwhile idea when it was originally introduced by cartoonist Ted Key as a short segment titled Peabody’s Improbable History featured during THE ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE SHOW (1959). The premise was essentially that Mr. Peabody was/is the most interesting being in the world; a dog who possesses genius intellect and the ability to speak. Mr. Peabody creates a time machine so he can take his adopted (human) son Sherman back in time to teach him about history and hijinks ensue. That’s basically the plot for every Peabody & Sherman short though they managed to get a good deal of real history into each short, giving the cartoon a uniquely semi-educational twist for the time.
The movie based on these short cartoons, MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN, was just released by Dreamworks Animation on Blu-ray after a modest run to middling reviews this summer (2014). The premise is essentially the same as the cartoon shorts, except that in the new film there are scientific ramifications to our main character’s time traveling experiences. Thankfully, MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN doesn’t require a connection to the original series. Instead it introduces the characters and the story in kind of origin fashion; telling the story of both Mr. Peabody and how he came to be a father as well as why he invented the WABAC (the time machine, pronounced ‘wayback’).
When Sherman gets into a fight with a girl named Penny on the first day of school, Peabody is threatened with losing his adopted son. To try to smooth things over, Mr. Peabody invites Penny’s family to their home and the evening is going smoothly until Sherman, unable to connect with this girl who seems to hate him, tells her about the WABAC. Soon they’ve disappeared into the past where Penny has decided to stay, so Sherman has to come back and get Mr. Peabody, and the adventure is in full swing. But because of the number of alterations they have to make to history, a hole is ripped in the space-time continuum that may just destroy the world before they can save each other and return the world to normal.
Given the long life of THE ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE SHOW in syndication it isn’t surprising to see a studio going back to the well to try to find another story that will connect with audiences from the cartoon. The newest entry is Dreamworks Animation’s MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN, just released on Blu-ray after a modest summer run (2014). The premise is essentially the same as the original cartoon shorts, a fitting homage to both the source material and to loyal fans who have continued to support the series some sixty years after it’s initial run. But I am thankful for one key difference, where the shorts never talked about the ramifications of time travel the writers did their research and present a really fun story that happens to piggyback on the actual physics behind current time travel theories. In addition the writing is actually pretty good and while silly MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN actually does cover some real history and convey some nice touches of educational material without really feeling like it’s shoving it down your throat.
This was one movie I just didn’t feel like taking my kids to see but now that I’ve watched it I wish I had. The visuals are just some of the most impressive I’ve seen from Dreamworks and the color-pallette and locations fit the story. This isn’t high brow comedy but it is pretty funny from time to time (Mr. Peabody still tries to pass off terrible puns, characters are intentionally caricaturish) and all in all the movie is a nice outing for a family. I highly recommend this family film for children of all ages.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 1.85:1) MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN features an absolutely flawless image, transferred directly from the source. Despite being an animated feature the world really feels vibrant and alive with strong colors and contrast.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1) The audio track for MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN is another technical triumph. Kid’s movies aren’t supposed to sound and look this good, are they? The presentation here greatly influenced this reviewer because it is truly an achievement.
Rocky & His Friends Premiere Episode (22:53) this was the first episode of the seminal cartoon that originally introduced MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN to the world. Remember, though, this was a different era… chances are the inclusion of these cartoons will mean more to the parents than the children checking out the Blu-ray.
MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN Segments (25:48) More of the original animated shorts, the five included are of variable quality. Includes Robin Hood, Leonardo da Vinci, King Louis XVI, William Shakespeare, Ludwig van Beethoven.
A Tour of the WABAC (02:51) Mr. Peabody and Sherman give a tour of the time machine at the center of MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN. There aren’t any new pieces of animation; instead this is just an edited package of shots from the film.
Time Travel: Mad Science (05:58) Ken Wharton and Anthony Aguirre (real life physicists) discuss the science behind time travel. There are several theories presented here and they really did a nice job putting together two people who are able to talk about really complex theories in a way that families can understand them; a welcome addition to the MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN package.
Dreamworks Presents MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN, a Journey WABAC (21:50) Patrick Warburton presents and narrates this ‘making of’ short documentary that goes into the history of both the animated series (Rocky and Bullwinkle) and the shorts and the inception of MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN.
History’s Greatest Mystery: A Dog and his Boy (02:33) This short takes the conspiracy theory feel and looks at MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN and their impact on history.
Peabody’s Paw Print on History (03:52) Mr Peabody received an honor by putting his paws prints outside the TCL Chinese Theater. This documents the historic event while providing another opportunity for the cast & crew of MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN another opportunity to share a few snippets. Thank goodness for Ty Burrell, who makes just about anything worth watching (if only for his few moments on screen).
The WABAC Jigsaw Puzzle – an interactive game included allows you to put together several jigsaw puzzles using images from MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN with just your Blu-ray remote. Sadly if you’re using a video game system (like a PS4 or Xbox One) they are extremely difficult to control, making this a disappointing feature on the MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN Blu-ray.
Time Travel Memory Match – Another interactive game you can play on your television screen. Same as the WABAC Jigsaw Puzzle (above) it is incredibly difficult to control and you may have to completely turn off the system to get back to the main menu.
Gallery – Essentially a PowerPoint presentation of stills from MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN, this is a bit of a disappointment. The stills, for some reason, are less clear than the Blu-ray image. You can view the gallery and either click through the pictures or set them to autoplay.
MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN also includes the Theatrical Trailer (02:26) for the film and comes with an iTunes Digital Copy, an UltraViolet DigitalHD Digital Copy, and a DVD in the combo package.