Editor's Note: To review the latest animated film marketed at families, I called in the resident experts again—four kids who like to watch and talk about movies. What follows is their take, with some notes from their parents.
Mr. Peabody is a dog unlike any other dog. He's an inventor and a genius. He has an adopted human son, Sherman, whom he found abandoned as a baby in a box.
Mr. Peabody went before a judge to adopt Sherman because he wanted to give him the home that he never had as a puppy. Though he is a dog, Mr. Peabody is a caring and very protective father who leads the two of them on many adventures in the time machine—the WABAC—learning history first-hand.
Sherman is a smart, friendly seven year old living with Mr. Peabody in a penthouse over Central Park. The story begins on Sherman's first day of school. He fights at lunch with a bold, bratty, and blonde girl named Penny because she calls him a dog. She was insulting both him and Mr. Peabody with this remark.
After the fight that ends in bite, the school's social worker, Ms. Grunion, threatens to take Sherman away from Mr. Peabody. He's a dog—he couldn't possibly be a good father to a human.
Mr. Peabody invites Penny, her parents, and Ms. Grunion the social worker to dinner to take care of the problem. During the evening, Mr. Peabody tells Sherman to get along with Penny and not to show her the WABAC. Penny manipulates Sherman into disobeying his father and he takes her to Ancient Egypt in the WABAC.
Sherman quickly realizes he needs Mr. Peabody's help, so he returns to present day to get his father. They end up going back to rescue Penny, only to set off a on a series of adventures through time. All the while, Mr. Peabody tries to get back to present day before Penny's parents figure out what's going on and Ms. Grunion arrives for dinner. The action peaks when Penny's parents learn what's happening and Ms. Grunion tries to take Sherman away.
The movie is creative, funny, and entertaining. The historical characters were hilarious. They travel to the French Revolution, ancient Egypt, the Trojan War, and the Italian Renaissance. Leonardo da Vinci, King Tut, Marie Antoinette and the Trojan soldiers were quirky, silly, and fun to watch.
The film's plot was imaginative and surprising at times. Mr. Peabody was full of unexpected ideas, and acts unpredictably when faced with losing Sherman. The historical scenes were exciting and even a bit educational.
There were very few things we didn't like about this movie. It was hard to watch Penny as she bullied Sherman and disrespected Mr. Peabody. However, she changed and eventually becomes a good friend to Sherman. The storyline was a bit predictable at some points, but overall still very entertaining.
Through the movie, Sherman learns to trust, listen to, and obey his father. Mr. Peabody learns to believe in Sherman and give him more responsibility. Penny changes the most. She becomes gentle and caring as she and Sherman work together. The movie teaches lessons not to judge by looks, as Mr. Peabody is judged as an unfit parent because he is a dog. The characters come to know that Mr. Peabody should be judged on his actions and character, not his outward appearance.