Mr. Peabody & Sherman – Not Just a Dog Movie
I'm a big Modern Family fan. And I've built a career and a life around dogs. So when I heard that Ty Burrell - one of my favorite cast members from Modern Family - and at least one other were the voices behind several of the main characters in the soon-to-be-released movie, "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," I was in.
I recently had the good fortune to attend a pre-screening of the movie in Atlanta with my daughter and a few of her friends, and we had a fabulous time.
Even though this is a story whose main character is a dog, it's not anywhere near just a dog movie. Sure, it touches on a bunch of familiar and welcome warm notes - animal adoption, the bond between man and dog, etc - but it also provides a refreshingly cliche-free take on relationships in general and provides a lot of fun (and funny) along the way. As one of my daughter's friends said after the screening, "That was a good mix of stuff for us and grown-up humor, too." I assume she only knew it was grownup humor due to the lower pitch of the laughter at some of the more intricate jokes.
To start right off with a bit of a twist, the story centers around a dog who adopts a boy. Among those of us involved in animal rescue, we all know that this is most often the case - the dog chooses us, not vice versa. But this takes that concept to a new, literal level and never apologizes for it or panders to the audience by over-explaining it. It is what it is, and it works. The dog - Mr. Peabody (Burrell) - is a seasoned and enlightened world traveler with close personal friendships with some of history's most exceptional figures (George Washington, DaVinci, etc) thanks to his WABAC ('way back') time travel machine. Just go with it.
His 'son' is a wide-eyed and ready-to-roll schoolboy named Sherman who has a grudging thing for one of his bossy classmates, Penny.
And the heart of the story lies in these relationships. First we have the friendship that develops between Penny and Sherman. Second, we see the challenges of the father and son relationship and the added complexities of a dog being a parent to a boy. As humanized as Mr. Peabody is, at the end of the day, he still is a dog. Clearly the message is about acceptance, and not just canine love. However, for those of us out there who love our dogs like part of the family, “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” is sure to hit a special chord in our hearts for the film’s depiction of the love, loyalty and companionship we share with our four-legged best friends.
We enjoyed it, and as long as you don't walk in thinking you're going to a dogs-only movie, I think you might, too.
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