Elderly American readers may recall this cartoon duo from a series of educational inserts slotted into 1960s episodes of TV’s ‘The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show’, in which hyper-intelligent canine polymath Mr Peabody and his knowledge-hungry adopted son Sherman explored history in their time-travelling Wayback Machine. Londoners may recognise them from huge twinkly advertising displays plastered along Regent St as part of the capital’s Christmas display. The rest of the world may scratch their heads and wonder if the remake craze has got a wee bit out of hand.
This feature-length ‘Mr Peabody and Sherman’ is by no means unbearable: there are a few decent gags, and the episodic plot just about manages to hold the interest. But there’s little here for any but the most easy-to-please youngsters. The animation is particularly unappealing, turning every human figure, from Agamemnon to Leonardo da Vinci, into rubbery, bobble-headed monsters eerily reminiscent of those blank-eyed Bratz dolls. The result feels like ‘Time Bandits’ without the intelligence or ‘Bill & Ted’ without the charm: a largely purposeless, pratfalling romp through history’s greatest hits.