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Mr. Peabody & Sherman (PG)
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This 2014 movie is based on the "Peabody's Improbable History" segments of the 1960s series "Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends." I must have seen at least a bit of it at some point, but I don't really remember it. I expect I liked the movie more than I would like the original series, though I would like to see the old Rocky & Bullwinkle show someday.

Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell) is a dog, who is not only a brilliant scientist, but basically excels at anything, like arts, athletics, cooking, or whatever he puts his mind to. Seven years prior to the movie, he found an orphaned baby in a cardboard box, and decided to adopt him. He had to go to court to win the right to adopt a human, and the judge (voiced by Dennis Haysbert) ruled that "if a boy can adopt a dog, then a dog can adopt a boy." In the present, Sherman is a fairly normal seven-year-old boy (voiced by Max Charles, whom I mainly know from The Neighbors). The oddest thing about him isn't that he was raised by a dog, it's that he was raised by a genius. At first, though, it didn't seem to me like he was any smarter than a typical kid his age. But then he starts his first day of school; I'm not sure what grade, but I'm assuming probably second. (I wouldn't expect a seven-year-old to be in first grade. But I'm also not sure why his adoptive father would have kept him out of school for a year or more.) Once he gets to class, he quickly starts answering questions with more knowledge than someone his age would normally have, and the reason for that isn't just because his dad is a genius. It's because his dad built a time machine, called the WABAC (Wavelength Acceleration Bidirectional Asynchronous Controller), and often takes Sherman to various historical events to teach him about history firsthand. (Honestly, I was a bit surprised he knew so much, because in the one time trip- to the French Revolution- that we saw before he started school, it didn't seem to me like he was really paying much attention or absorbing the lesson his father was trying to teach. But I guess I was wrong.)

Anyway, his knowledge of history annoys a girl in his class named Penny Peterson (Ariel Winter), who was presumably her class's star pupil before Sherman's arrival. (Incidentally, I didn't realize until the end credits that she was voiced by Winter, and I found it interesting casting, since she's also best known for "Modern Family.") Then at lunch, Penny starts bullying him, and calls him a dog. This eventually leads to Sherman biting her, though we don't actually see that happen. (I almost feel like he was justified, because if she's going to treat him like a dog, it seems only fair that he'd act like one, especially one that's being attacked.) Of course, this leads to the principal being forced to call Child Protective Services, an agent of which named Ms. Grunion (Allison Janney) believes Sherman's behavior is the result of his having been raised by a dog. She intends to investigate his home life, with the obvious hope that she'll find just cause to take Sherman away from Mr. Peabody.

Peabody then invites Penny and her parents, Patty (Leslie Mann) and Paul (Stephen Colbert) to his home, in the hopes of resolving the matter privately. While he entertains them, he leaves Sherman to entertain Penny, much to both children's annoyance. He also tells Sherman not to show her the WABAC, but of course he ends up doing exactly that. A little later, he comes to tell Mr. Peabody that Penny is lost in ancient Egypt, so the two of them have to go back and rescue her. For reasons I don't want to spoil, she doesn't immediately want to be rescued, but eventually she realizes she does want to go back home, after all. However, by then the WABAC is running low on fuel, and they have to stop in Florence 1508, rather than returning to the present. While Peabody gets some help from Leonardo da Vinci in building a device to power the WABAC, Penny and Sherman go exploring, and Penny decides to use da Vinci's flying machine, against Sherman's advice. She has to ask him how to launch it, and he's pretty naive to believe she won't actually do it. But once it has launched, Penny's pretty good at flying it. Until she decides to force Sherman to take over the controls, against his will, and he turns out to be good at it, too. Thus, they become friends, though Peabody is upset at them when he finds out what they've done.

After launching the WABAC to try to return home, a black hole forces them to Troy in 1184 BCE, where Sherman, upset by his father's lack of confidence in him, joins the Greek army, which is about to invade the city in the Trojan Horse. The leader of the Greeks, Agamemnon (Patrick Warburton), seems not at all concerned with taking a seven-year-old into battle, despite Peabody's protests. So, Peabody has to protect Sherman from the Trojans, once the battle starts. But Penny also gets into some serious danger... and I don't really want to spoil any more details of the plot. I'll just say that when they return to the present, they have to face greater danger than just the possible separation of father and son, and must work together to save the world.

Well, as much fun as all the time travel and adventure are, the story is at its heart about the relationship between Peabody and Sherman, and there's a pretty touching conclusion to that. Also I want to say that, based on the trailer (which I saw a few years or so before I actually saw the movie), I was really expecting to like Penny, so I was a bit surprised when she turned out to be a bully, at first. But I really did get to like her, once all the time travel started. And, other than that, all I can really say is that this is a very funny movie, both for the usual sort of wacky humor you could expect from this kind of movie, and for Mr. Peabody's frequent puns. (This is an element from the original series, but I think it transferred quite well to the modern era, in which we tend to call his style of humor "dad jokes.")

Also, the movie spawned a TV series on Netflix, which I haven't had a chance to see. (Because I don't get Netflix.)

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