As the son of the world’s most intelligent being, Sherman has some definite educational advantages compared to his classmates in public school. The greatest of these is the WABAC time machine, which Mr. Peabody has constructed to provide his son with firsthand education about history.
Of course, being a direct witness to history puts Sherman in the unique position of being able to disabuse classmates – and teachers – of certain ostensible stories regarding historical figures – George Washington and the cherry tree, for instance. That’s precisely what the boy-wunderkind does against class know-it-all and bully Penny Peterson (Ariel Winter), ultimately leading to a classroom incident wherein Sherman bites Penny.
When Social Services becomes involved, Mr. Peabody invites Penny and her parents (Stephen Colbert and Leslie Mann) to his and Sherman’s home for a gourmet dinner. The wonder-dog hopes to diffuse the situation before Social Services can take action.
What Mr. Peabody doesn’t anticipate is that Sherman – in direct defiance his dad’s command against ever using the time machine with anyone else – will deploy the WABAC to both impress Penny and put a permanent end to her bullying. Hijinks and temporal paradoxes ensue…
What impressed me most about “Peabody” was that director Rob Minkoff (“The Lion King”) and screenwriters Craig Wright, Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon and Michael McCullers were so effectively able to capture the heart and spirit of the original cartoon series. “Peabody” plays like an extended version of those original four-minute shorts, allowing the beagle-genius and his boy to frolic through time on a much grander scale.
Indeed, during the film’s 92-minute runtime, the pair (along with Penny) encounters everyone from George Washington to Spartacus to Agamemnon to Paul Revere, Gandhi, Ben Franklin, Abe Lincoln, Leonardo da Vinci, King Tut and too many more to name. They trounce through time, breathlessly bouncing from era to era, spouting pun after pun – both cheesy and clever (again, perfectly echoing the original) – in a story that’s mildly convoluted, but so much fun I doubt many moviegoers will care; I certainly didn’t.