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Saturday, 22 March 2014 08:11

'Mr. Peabody and Sherman' brings back history and laughter + Video

'Mr. Peabody and Sherman' brings back history and laughter dailynews.com
Written by Martha K. Baker
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  • Director: Rob Minkoff
  • Dates: Opens March 7, 2014

Imagine that! a dog adopting a human for a change. Well, that is just what Jay Ward and his minions did on their breaks from the "Rocky and Bullwinkle Show." They imagined a very, very smart dog in charge of the education of a very willing boy. 

The dog wears spectacles and a red bow tie; the boy wears spectacles and a pompadour. They are inseparable in any century.

That's because they're staffing the WABAC Machine again. But, this time, the two intrepids break the rules of time travel and have to go back to fix the rift. Sherman goes to the Susan B. Anthony School in New York, which is in the middle of a glorious autumn when the two, boy and beast, go off to learn history first hand. In their travels, they attend the French Revolution of 1789 -- and joke on the homonym of "rain" and "rein." -- and they go to Florence in 1508 to see Da Vinci and a lovely reflection of that city in the Arno River. They also go to Troy in 1184 BCE. Stopping for lunch for these two means also stopping for a brief history of the lunch box. Educational, see?

Jay Ward died in 1989, so his writing has slowed down a bit, but his influence is as strong as ever. Craig Wright, who's written for television series like "Lost" and "Brothers and Sisters," based his screenplay on Ward's work. Wright has retained the tone and the style of imagination and puns and silliness -- always a good path toward education. Not that that's what you're supposed to get out of a "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" cartoon. You're supposed to get laughs, and there are plenty of those. If you're below 8 years old, however, you might not get all the puns. Even Sherman does not get all of them. He stands stock still, looks blank, and announces, "I don't get that," while the adults in the theater are laughing their heinies off. Well, you try not to laugh when Mr. Peabody puns "Giza," as in Egypt, with "geezer," as in "codger." And try not to be amused by the closing scene that takes place by the statue of Sherman, the Civil War general, in New York City. Get it?

Ty Burrell, the hapless father in "Modern Family," voices Mr. Peabody, and Max Charles, from television's "The Neighbors," voices Sherman. Among the other voices are Ariel Winter, also from "Modern Family," Allison Janney, Dennis Haysbert, Stephen Colbert, Lake Bell, and Leslie Mann. Mel Brooks is, of course, Albert Einstein.

"Mr. Peabody and Sherman," directed by Rob Minkoff, is delightfully drawn by thousands of artists, and it's well written. History, Jay Ward knew, was a laugh riot. 

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