The weekend that Mr. Peabody and Sherman came out, I specifically remember a slew of articles about how much money it made Dreamworks lose. Basically, Wall Street decided to bury this film before it even had a chance to shine at the box office. Unfortunately, they were right, and Mr. Peabody and Sherman became one of the biggest flops in Dreamworks' history, costing the company $54 million.
Unlike Edge of Tomorrow, this film never really developed a fanbase to uplift its box office woes. In fact, I have already seen copies of it pop up in the bargain bin at Cumberland Farms. This, in my opinion, is an absolute travesty, as I feel that it's one of Dreamworks' best films. Not only that, but it surpasses every other cartoon-to-movie adaptation by miles.
The abysmal Scooby Doo and Smurfs films have failed to provide a good screenplay to accompany its animated hijinks. Mr. Peabody and Sherman, however, is packed with witty dialogue and good morals about unconventional families, fatherhood, and childhood struggles. Sure, there are a couple of minor pop-culture gags, but otherwise, this movie put more focus on doing its characters justice than being "hip" and "cool" for the kids. This is the kind of film that respects the intelligence of its younger audience.
Though this film does certainly have its share of jarring anachronisms (such as heart-printed underwear and an actual working flying machine made by Leonardo da Vinci), there is certainly a decent amount of education in the historical scenes. Kids may actually be delighted to learn about how Marie Antoinette helped ignite the French Revolution and how George Washington didn't really cut down a cherry tree. The film makes the wise decision of being a colorful family adventure film while still having some informative elements. The fact that the filmmakers bring some education to the screenplay really shows that they have faith in a kid’s ability to watch a movie.
Both Mr. Peabody and Sherman are surprisingly deep characters. The fact that Sherman has been raised by a dog gradually causes a rift between the two. In the beginning of the movie, Sherman is teased at school and called a “dog” because his father is one. Also faced with his own maturing, Sherman wishes to do more things on his own. Peabody, meanwhile is apprehensive of Sherman doing things on his own, as he fears inside that Sherman will outgrow him. This is quite a lot of conflict for a “kid’s movie.” Plus the theme of nuclear and non-nuclear families is handled excellently, and is always welcome in a family film.
Not only is the screenplay well thought out, but the animation is absolutely stunning. As the characters travel through time, each time period is filled with beautifully animated landscapes and enjoyable characters with top-notch vocal performances. 18th century France is suitably gritty and in ancient Egypt, palm trees, pyramids and towering statues show a clear cavalcade of effort from the animation team.
As for the performances, this film has some of the finest voice acting I have ever heard in an animated feature. Ty Burrell and Max Charles bring believable emotion and jocularity to Peabody and Sherman respectively. Burrell gives Peabody a suitably intellectual and clear sounding voice, giving an extra jolt of likability to the character. Max Charles shows an excessive amount of talent for an 8-year-old (probably younger when the dialogue was recorded), making Sherman a believable young boy with a roller coaster of emotions throughout. An all-star supporting cast including Steve Colbert, Ariel Winter, Stanley Tucci, Patrick Warburton, Dennis Haysbert, Allison Janney, Leslie Mann and even Mel Brooks are certainly a treasure to listen to as well. I certainly hope that Burrell and Charles at least get annie award nominations for their performances.
If you haven't seen this movie yet, I highly recommend it for families and kids of all ages. At the end of the day, Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a beautiful, funny, and even heartfelt film that you can easily get a kick out of. It is enjoyable to watch, and I dare even say it’s one of Dreamworks’ best efforts to date. It in no way deserved to under perform at the box-office the way it did, or fade into obscurity.