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Mr Peabody & Sherman (3D) (DQ)


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

Director: Rob Minkoff

A hugely inventive feature cartoon, full of imaginative detail and imposing settings, revolving round the adventures of seven-year-old Sherman (Charles) and his adoptive father Mr Peabody (Burrell), who's a fully-fledged genius who excels at everything and lives in a luxurious penthouse suite. He's also happens to be a bespectacled white beagle who walks on hind legs, talks, and looks like a cross between Droopy and Phil Silvers' Bilko.

More pertinently to the plot, Mr P is the inventor of the Wayback (or WABAC), a time machine in the form of a red globe with more equipment inside than the Tardis, in which he and Sherman travel back to various exciting times in the past.

Their unique lifestyle comes under threat, however, when Sherman belatedly starts school and runs up against class brainbox Penny (Winter), who torments him until there's a fight in which Sherman bites her. The school calls in Child Protection gorgon Miss Grunion (Janney) and Mr Peabody finds himself threatened with Sherman being taken into care.

Inviting Penny and her parents (Colbert, Mann) over for a reconciliation evening, Mr P has things going swimmingly until Sherman blows the gaffe to Penny about the time machine and the kids blast off into the past, getting themselves (and a pursuing Mr Peabody) involved in ancient Egypt (where Penny is betrothed to King Tut and threatened with mummification) and the Trojan War (where the uber-macho Agamemnon suffers from underarm BO of ginormous proportions).

Though its plot hardly flows along, and is more of a history lesson kids shouldn't take too seriously, the film is also full of nice little touches - like the light switches in Peabody's home: they're all at dog level - witticisms of varying quality by Peabody (with Sherman's inevitable reply 'I don't get it') and visual gags often so subliminal you're bound to miss a few.

So, even if the film will entertain five- to 10-year-olds right royally, there's plenty here for adults as well.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox (DreamWorks). Technicolor/Prints by deluxe.
93 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: U.

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

Review date: 04 Feb 2014