The success of this 60s animation, a short segment on Rocky & Bullwinkle, kind of passed those living outside America by with neither reaching audiences like their other animated exports (I became aware of Peabody's existence thanks only to a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference on Family Guy) but if you do venture out to this relatively unknown cartoon you'll find a lot to enjoy.
Mr. Peabody (Burell, Modern Family's unsure patriarch) is a genius - he's invented everything from energy-saving vehicles to the fist bump. Oh, and a time machine, which he and his adopted son Sherman (Charles) hop into and visit the past to learn about history. All goes swimmingly until Sherman takes offence to schoolgirl Penny (Winter) who calls him a dog. The resulting fight is reported to Alison Janney's tyrannical child protective service lady and to smooth everything over Mr. Peabody invites Penny's parents and Janney to dinner. However, Penny and Sherman jump in the time machine and get lost in history...
That's a lot of heavy lifting in the opening twenty just to find an excuse for Peabody and Sherman to do what they do: episodic action sequences and last minute escapes in a historical setting. Revolutionary France, ancient Egypt, the renaissance, and the Trojan War are investigated while Stanley Tucci, Leslie Mann, Mel Brooks, Dennis Haysbert, and Patrick Warburton turn up in small roles (does every Warburton character he lends his voice to have to resemble the man himself?)
While the plot might be a little thin in the ground, and it's time travel conundrums feel borrowed from other movies, Mr. Peabody & Sherman moves at a rollicking pace, only slowing down to make sure Peabody's terrible/funny pun lands properly. The animation is fine, the 3D computer graphics an expected improvement on the flat 2D 60s version, the bobble-headed characters are cute, and it doesn’t get bogged down in a history lesson.
It's short, it's fast, it's fun.