Maybe it's because I'm a father of a 2-year-old who's starting to navigate the world of movies that I'm sensitive to what goes into his tiny head. I want to be selective about what he watches and make sure that it's not garbage and is of quality entertainment; top shelf stuff like Pixar and some Disney and Dreamworks. I like to show him stuff that is geared toward children but also has complex character relationships, challeging stories and exposure to emotions that are crucial for life. As great as a lot of these films are none of them are something I would consider educational. Mr. Peabody & Sherman is not only entertaining as hell, but it's educational as well. Perhaps one of the first films I've seen that fits the description coined by Walt Disney, "Edu-tainment."
To start off saying that Mr. Peabody is educational may sound really boring but I assure you that it's not. Most of the film moves at a frenzied pace that holds the attention of even the most ADD-ridden kid. The movie is only 90-minutes-long but feels like you watched a half hour TV show. Maybe part of that is because the film is divided up into four different parts. Since the movie deals with time travel, of course, problems arise when they hop the cosmos of time and space and start to screw things up. Three different time periods are featured (Ancient Egypt, The Renaissance, Ancient Greece) and they each could stand alone as short films. Makes perfect sense since Mr. Peabody & Sherman is based on a TV Show.
Oh yeah, not a lot of people are aware that it's based on anything because it's from a show that existed 60-years-ago. Mr. Peabody's Improbably History was part of the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show and despite being ahead of its time and brilliant writing for a children's show, it's 60-years-old! I can't think of anything else outside of Mickey Mouse that has that sort of staying power and I'm not saying that Mr. Peabody does. It seems like something that someone in Hollywood bought the rights to decades ago and, damnit, they're gonna get their money out of it somehow.
The good news is that they hired the right director for the job. Rob Minkoff may not have the best reputation with his live action films (not sure anyone could be forgiven for 2003's The Haunted Mansion) but he's the guy responsible for one of the best, if not THE best, Disney movie of all time, The Lion King. Mr. Peabody & Sherman doesn't look or feel like that at all but you can tell that a steady and confident hand is behind the lense. Despite being corny at times, it's a really well-made movie.
It's seems crazy that some of the best movies to come out in 2014 so far are children's films but it's true. The Lego Movie is spectacular and now Mr. Peabody & Sherman is proving that "edu-tainment" is a reachable goal. There's humor for adults and kids all based around teaching great moments from history. Stanly Tucci (The Terminal, The Hunger Games series) is amazing as Leonardo Di Vinci and, of course, Ty Burrell (ABC's Modern Family, Dawn of the Dead) knocks it out of the park as Mr. Peabody. My son is too young to watch this at this point but when he turns 5 or 6, Mr. Peabody & Sherman is exactly the kind of movie I look forward to watching with him.