A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a big-screen adaptation of the Peabody's Improbably History segments of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Filled with historical figures and events, the animated adventure features a lot of physical comedy, and some potentially frightening scenes when the kids and Mr. Peabody are in danger -- in ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, and the French Revolution. Language includes some insults like "loser," "dirty," "dog," and more. Many of the puns and jokes are obviously aimed at parents and older audiences, like when Mr. Peabody mixes cocktails called "Einstein on the Beach." Female characters are negative throughout, though the central girl character redeems herself at the very end.
What's the story?
MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN follows the exploits of genius talking dog Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell), a titan of industry, inventor, musician and scientist whose greatest accomplishments are raising his 7-year-old adopted son -- Sherman (Max Charles) -- and creating a time machine he calls the WABAC. After Sherman gets into a school fight with his bullying classmate Penny (Ariel Winter), Mr. Peabody invites her family over to patch things over, and the kids end up using the WABAC. The unsupervised and unscheduled time travel leads to disastrous and hilarious results that only Mr. Peabody can fix.
Is it any good?
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is an uneven production of highly entertaining visuals and semi-educational historical tidbits mixed with so-bad-they're-occasionally-funny puns and physical comedy. There are jokes (and all the puns) obviously aimed at parents, and sight gags clearly targeted at the kids. But not all of the characters are easy to root for or even like. Penny (voiced by Modern Family star Winter) is a highly unlikable character for most of the movie, during which she's petulant, bullying, and selfish -- demanding to do risky and dangerous deeds. Eventually she redeems herself, but she's too much of a mean girl for little kids to understand.
The father-son angle, however, is quite sweet. Mr. Peabody may be a genius dog that can master everything from cooking to rocket science to all forms of music, but parenting is the one thing he can't just learn out of a book. The various ways that Mr. Peabody and Sherman protect, defend, and teach each other is a good lesson in what's important about parent-child relationships (trust, communication, unconditional love). Baby boomer-aged adults will enjoy revisiting their childhood with this adaptation, but even those completely unfamiliar with the source material will find the story amusing if not remarkable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why talking animals are so popular in family movies. How is this one different than other animated movies featuring dogs and kids?
Discuss the various historical figures Sherman, Penny, and Mr. Peabody encounter. Which people or events do you want to learn more about after seeing the movie?
What do you think about Penny's behavior? Is she a good role model for how to act toward a classmate? How does she change throughout the movie?
- In theaters: March 7, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: October 14, 2014
- Cast: Ty Burrell, Ariel Winter, Max Charles
- Director: Rob Minkoff
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, History
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild action and brief rude humor
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.