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Mr Peabody & Sherman (3D) (AF)


Stars: Voices: Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Allison Janney, Stanley Tucci, Lake Bell, Patrick Warburton, Stephen Tobolowsky, Mel Brooks, Karan Brar

Director: Rob Minkoff

Any adult who has had to accompany youngsters to animated features will recognize all too well that more often than not noisy juvenile bedlam that breaks out from the target audience watching movies aimed primarily at young audiences.

Happily this enjoyably daffy animated time travel adventure is one of the very rare children’s films that most accompanying adults should enjoy as well.

Smart puns abound, history is comically tweaked with an engaging cynicism (Bill Clinton turns up at a time of appalling crisis and admits “I did worse”) while – not always the case with the process (remember the disaster that was Clash of the Titans?) - well realised 3D filming actually adds to the pleasure.

The eponymous title characters were featured in the popular American cartoon series ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’. Mr Peabody (voice: Ty Burrell), who turns out to be the most accomplished dog in the word and a true genius to boot tells us “ I tried to fit in” as a pooch but failed, turning his nose up at the choice of smelling a fellow canine’s butt in the traditional manner and ending up rich and famous and living in a splendid apartment on top of a New York skyscraper.

Sherman (voiced by Max Charles), is Mr Peabody's young human adopted son (A judge has ruled that “If a boy can adopt a dog, I see no reason why a dog can’t adopt a boy”) catalyses the storyline when he cracks and strikes back at a girl called Penny at his school who is bullying him, bringing a monstrous social worker down on Mr Peabody, leaving the lad and the girl to fall in love while hurtling through time in M Peabody’s extraordinary WABAC time machine and causing potential chaos in New York in the present day…

Screenwriter Craig Wright's radically funny approach to history produces plenty of laughs for kids and adults alike, with silly riffs on the French Revolution - Marie Antoinette hands out cake ad lib, Mr Peabody and Sherman flee Robespierre and the lad is drenched with urine escaping through the sewers of Paris. Penny has to be saved from marriage (and subsequent dismemberment and mummification) to Tutankhamen in Ancient Egypt, as well as proving to be the saviour who persuades Mona Lisa to smile for Leonardo Da Vinci and then hijacking his flying machine and joining the would-be conquerors of Troy (including Oedipus!) inside the legendary Wooden Horse.

The animation is first rate, invention never flags and the vocal casting works well. And it would be hard to think of a more prestigious or entertaining supporting cast that George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and, better still, Einstein (ideally voiced by Mel Brooks) wrestling with the mathematical complexities of solving the Rubik Cube.

(And it’s educational, too. Naturalists concerned about the world’s rapidly receding forests will be relieved to hear the George Washington was lying when he claimed to have chopped down a cherry tree).

The Lion King director Rob Minkoff keeps the pace fast and funny. In fact the only major mistake he makes is featuring a truly awful song by Peter Andre – but that’s show business, I guess.

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Technicolor/Prints by deluxe.
92 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 04 Feb 2014