Immersed in Movies: Previewing 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman'

Features
by Bill Desowitz
October 24, 2013 12:09 PM
4 Comments
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DreamWorks Animation showed off a little more of Mr. Peabody & Sherman (March 7, 2014) Wednesday at Fox with a press conference attended  by director Rob Minkoff, exec producer Tiffany Ward, actor Ty Burrell and hosted by film historian Elvis Mitchell. 

From the clips screened, the feature nicely captures the spirit and snap of the beloved Jay Ward cartoon (created by Ted Key) -- and have no fear: the CG amplifies the thrilling, WABAC wonder of their time-traveling escapades. The simple design of the genius dog and his human boy plays off marvelously with the elegant surroundings.

But it's a touching father-son conflict that director Minkoff explores, which makes this a topical story about tolerance and family values. They live in a Central Park South high rise and Peabody is a master of everything but emotional intimacy, which can be difficult for a boy who's made fun of at school for having a canine dad.

In fact, Minkoff confessed that Peabody & Sherman was a big part of his childhood and helped shape his career in animation. And the fact that Ward was the model for Cap'n Crunch extended his influence even further. Why, Minkoff even resembles Mr. Peabody with his round glasses and confident manner.

With Modern Family's Burrell (Mr. Peabody) and Ward by his side, Minkoff screened several time-traveling snippets: Egypt with King Tut, Italy with Leonardo da Vinci, and Greece inside the famed Trojan horse. There were plenty of Ward-like puns and visual eye candy, but each episode represented the growing rift between father and son.

"It's fun to be the smartest guy in the world," Burrell suggested. "All line endings go up [in homage to original voice actor Bill Scott], but I found a voice more grounded. Peabody is a formality. He tries to analyze comedy, which can't be analyzed. He has to learn to stop over thinking..."

As for Sherman (voiced by Max Charles of The Amazing Spider-Man), Minkoff went for a youngster that was "unaffected and genuine." This is important for a son who becomes less obedient and more rebellious as the movie progresses, presumably waiting for his father to say, "I love you."

Ward offered that her dad wrote for adults and tried to lead youngsters to find history.With that in mind, this DreamWorks adaptation of Mr. Peabody & Sherman would probably bring a smile to his face.


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4 Comments

  • Jay Ward Fan 13 | October 25, 2013 9:48 AMReply

    I never got the impression that Mr. Peabody was Sherman's dad.
    I thought it was a role reversal -Sherman being Peabody's pet boy instead of Peabody being Sherman's pet dog, While I look forward to what Dreamworks has done with this project I can't help but feel that it is going to be one of those films where they take a classic series and pad out a horrible backstory to pad out a feature while creating modern hollow versions of beloved characters to make the most of their "evergreen properties".

  • michael | October 24, 2013 4:54 PMReply

    Thank you Mr Desowitz for the change. I was happy to see you mention the story and premise as oppose to most of the other articles about this film that focuses on the CG design of the two main characters. I hope you are right and the design of Peabody and Sherman work within the new film's Universe.

  • michael | October 24, 2013 12:29 PMReply

    I am sorry to say I was disappointed by this report that seems to have been written by the film's PR department. This is a website aimed at those who are familiar with animation and its history, yet not one word about Ted Key.

  • Bill Desowitz | October 24, 2013 12:51 PM

    My apologies: I've added a nod to creator Ted Key and will be sure to follow-up with Minkoff and the animators about adapting his hand-drawn style for CG when I cover the making of next year.

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