dir: Rob Minkoff
Everything you even vaguely remember, and don't even remember that fondly, is going to come back and be made into a movie, probably an animated movie.
Bringing every vaguely shitty thing lurking in the back of your memory back to the forefront is done, primarily, I think, because the stuff is so, so good.
I mean, who doesn't have fond memories of, uh, this annoying boy and his pedantic, pretentious dog?
Perhaps I should have phrased that differently: was anyone wanting this to come back?
I swear, Your Honour, the only reason I saw this is because my daughter asked if we could see it. I thought it would slip through to the keeper this time, as in, it would be one of the kid's flicks I didn't have to pony up and see in the cinemas during the school term / Easter break. At least I didn't have to see it in three dimensions, two being more than enough for this historical extravaganza.
If any part of me wanted to see this, or wanted my daughter to see this, it was that wheezy, whiny part of me that makes excuses for caving in on issues, no matter how important or negligible. Someone mugs me on the train and takes my phone? "Well, it was a shitty phone anyway, and now I can get a new one!"
Fired from my job? "Opportunity to study or spend more time with the family!"
Unjustly convicted of murder? "I can catch up on my reading!"
Sure, I can find a silver lining to every cloud. It's what I do.
Thus, confronted with the yawning abyss before me of having to watch this flick, I said to myself, "Self, maybe it won't be so bad. Look at the bright side, it could get your daughter more interested in history, couldn't it?"
Getting kids interested in history is, to my eyes, on a par with getting them interested in eating eggplants and artichokes. I'll watch those music channels on cable with my daughter, and clips that are from the 90s are met with groans of disapproval. So how to get kids interested in stuff that happened thousands of years before they were born?
Animate it, having a talking dog in it, and lots of fart jokes. Everyone loves fart jokes, don’t they? They’re the pinnacle of human endeavour.
I don't object to the premise itself, since what could anyone possibly object to about a nerdy dog who adopts a child with whom he travels through history. If I have anything meaningful to object to, it's that they do so little with something that could have done so much.
Yeah, I could say that at least it got my kid interested in the French Revolution, Egyptian history and the Trojan War, since those figure somewhat in the plot of the flick, but it would be a big fat stinking lie, on the same level as a politician saying they wouldn't bring in a tax and then bringing a tax in. A bald-faced, monstrously dishonest lie. And there are limits to my mendacity, even if there are none on anyone else's.
All of human history is an excuse for fart jokes and opportunities for Greek kings to speak like football players or hyped up frat boys. Everyone throughout human history spoke and speak English, which is just a dialect of American.
Yes, I know how pointless it is to quibble about such when the main character is a talking dog. If the dog talks, then of course Robespierre ranted in English and Tutankhamen understood hip-hop lingo.
My dissatisfaction with the movie is that it’s lazy. Something like this could be cute and funny, and smart at the same time. Time travel stories, as they allude to the apocryphal story of George Washington and the cherry tree, are an opportunity to do something special. You can either reveal something not common knowledge that would blow kid’s minds, or put a funny spin on something by implying some well-known aspect of history actual transpired because of… yeah, a talking dog, a dull shmendrick of a boy and an annoying Verucca Salt of a girl.
Instead, the script sticks with the same tired gags, the same clichés to do with the laziest and most recognisable tropes that every clod will find familiar, and will leave them even more ignorant of history than when they started.
Case in point: The French Revolution. It happened because Marie Antoinette just loved cake so much that it enraged the peasants into revolution, during which she just kept inhaling cake like there was no tomorrow, which, for her, there wasn't.
Boring and lazy, two for the hefty price of one.
If I have a real problem with the movie, and, really, I don't, since it's no different from the majority of these animated movies recently, whether it's Smurfs or cavemen, it's that the voice of Mr Peabody didn't quite sound right.
Plus he's an irritating, smarmy know-it-all, and insecure people always hate that. Wait, am I admitting that I'm insecure? Perish the thought.
Ty Burrell is uncommonly famous probably exclusively because of that excruciating tv alleged comedy Modern Family, where he plays some guy called Phil. It's not a show I like or watch voluntarily, but I am aware of its existence.
It definitely exists, which is the most I can say about it. He's also in the latest Muppets film, as a weird take on Peter Seller's Inspector Clouseau, to even greater effect and acclaim that the original (not really).
His voice didn't really seen like this embodiment of canine Poindexterism. It just sounded like Ty Burrell, putting on a wonky voice.
Again, who cares, but it rankled with me. They managed to have Steven Colbert in the cast, as the father of an obnoxious brat girl, and I would dare say he would have been a better voice for Peabody. A much better voice. He gets the best line in the flick, when he angrily asserts that nothing is more important to him than his daughter, with the possible exception of any random phonecall.
Sherman is an irritating character. There, I said it. If it makes me a monster to hate on a child character, then, have at it, world. He's duller than dishwater, and dishwater is dull, and he seemed almost unnecessary to the flick. He has an equally pointless antagonist in the form of some girl who hates him but then likes him once they start travelling through time together.
If there was a section that I enjoyed, it was the interlude in Renaissance Florence, with DaVinci (yes, I know it's so cliche), but I actually found that sequence funny. DaVinci is trying to convince a dour Mona Lisa to smile, something which she is not keen to do from boredom. Supergenius buttsniffer Peabody tries to scientifically get her to laugh through a pratfall, and eventually she does laugh, before the joy naturally fades to bemusement, hence the famously nonplussed smile.
Is there a point, a purpose to the flick? Well, it exists to populate Happy Meals with merchandise and to sell itself, and hopefully start a franchise of sequels and prequels and metaquels, but the level of treacle it's sold on is that Child Protective Services for some reason want to take Sherman away from Peabody.
Sure, Peabody is the richest and smartest being in existence, so smart and rich that he has his own New York penthouse overlooking Central Park, which means he's at least as rich and brilliant as Donald Trump, but films need villains, and people trying to safeguard the health and wellbeing of children are clearly the worst monsters in history.
Taking umbrage with any of this would be foolish and a waste of time, because... just because. Let's just say the film is not one I remember fondly, though I got a few laughs out of it. My daughter got far more enjoyment out of it than me, but what the hell does she know anyway? She loved it solely from watching the ads that had the adapted theme song of "Who Let the Dog Out?", a song, like the attack on Pearl Harbor, that will live in infamy for generations to come.
And she enjoyed the move too, because all she needed to see was stuff flying out of the Sphinx's butt or people's arses being set on fire. It's a high standard to have.
But it was not for me, and I dread the inevitable sequels.
5 times there were surely some funnier, smarter things that could have been done within the 3000 year history of this planet since it was created by Bearded White Guy God in six days with one day off for a beer and a smoke out of 10
"Sherman! I came back in time to make sure you don't touch yourself!" - a noble activity, for you see it MAKES YOU GO BLIND, apparently - Mr Peabody and Sherman