Mr. Peabody & Sherman: A preview from director Rob Minkoff
DreamWorks have had their ups and downs. While the third and fourth sequels to Shrek may have been ill-judged, How to Train Your Dragon was masterful. The studio’s latest venture is Mr. Peabody & Sherman, based on the short five-minute cartoons by animator Jay Ward that appeared on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show from 1959. The cartoons featured a genius dog and his adoptive human son, who travel through time together. The Upcoming viewed exclusive preview footage and spoke to director Rob Minkoff and actor Ty Burrell, voice of Mr. Peabody.
Minkoff (best known as the director of The Lion King and Stuart Little) has been formulating this film adaptation for almost ten years, working with Jay Ward’s daughter Tiffany to create something faithful to the original but necessarily adapted for a feature length format. Minkoff’s devotion to the project, he explained, is born out of the “indelible, iconic characters” and the chance to explore the relationship between a boy and his dog – a narrative staple that has been completely turned on its head.
An upbeat plot weaves together various episodes of the pair in different historical periods. With the whole history of time to choose from, Minkoff said that it was difficult to narrow down what he wanted to feature, so he stuck with events that the audience would be aware of and created some completely silly incarnations of Leonardo da Vinci and Sigmund Freud. Voice actor Ty Burrell explained that the original cartoon was something he was only aware of peripherally, but after receiving the script he was delighted to take the role and was pleased with the way that the structure had been fleshed out from short cartoons to a full-length story.
Early footage looks very good, sticking capably to the formula of DreamWorks’ more successful films – a gentle plot with a good heart and enough humour to please both children and older viewers. The film has a very promising cast: alongside Burrell is fellow Modern Family cast member Ariel Winter as Sherman’s friend Penny, along with Allison Janney, Stanley Tucci and Patrick Warburton (whose distinct voice is instantly familiar from his work in Family Guy). Minkoff talked about the difficulty of finding a child actor who sounded natural and had genuine charm, but his extensive search proved fruitful and ten year old Max Charles does an excellent job as Sherman.
The film’s time-travel premise allows it to draw humour by twisting familiar historical events and creating lots of different, vibrant, colourful worlds from each period the characters visit. This variety ensures that the film is always appealing and so far it seems that Minkoff’s decade-long labour of love has paid off.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is released nationwide on 7th February 2014.
Watch the trailer for Mr. Peabody and Sherman here: