Early in February, I was invited to attend a press day in New York City for the movie Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Travel and accommodations were provided but all thoughts are my own.
Do you remember Mr. Peabody and Sherman from the classic Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons of our childhoods? My kids weren’t familiar with the dog and boy team like I was…but now that they have heard my reports of the movie and seen the trailer, they can’t wait. And I can’t wait to share this movie with them!
But this isn’t a movie review. Not quite yet. Today, I wanted to share the insight I got into the movie from the press day interviews that I was able to participate in.
About Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell, Emmy Award® Winner – Modern Family), the most accomplished dog in the world, and his mischievous boy Sherman (Max Charles – The Amazing Spiderman), use their time machine, the WABAC (pronounced Way-back), to go on the most outrageous adventures known to man or dog. But when Sherman takes The WABAC out for a joyride to impress his friend Penny, they accidentally rip a hole in the universe, wreaking havoc on the most important events in world history. Before they forever alter the past, present and future, Mr. Peabody must come to their rescue, ultimately facing the most daunting challenge of any era: figuring out how to be a parent. Together, the time traveling trio will make their mark on history.
After seeing a screening of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, a small group of bloggers were able to meet with the voice talents who played the movie’s title characters – Ty Burrell and Max Charles – as well as the Director, Rob Minkoff.
50 years after Rocky and Bullwinkle!
We were curious how the movie came to be made half a century after the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show introduced the characters.
Rob Minkoff: “It was 12 years ago. I was working with a producing partner named Jason Clark–not the actor, but the producer. We did Stuart Little together. And it was right around that time that he asked me, literally–it started with a question. He said, ‘What do you think of Mr. Peabody & Sherman?’ And I said, ‘I love Mr. Peabody & Sherman.’ He said, ‘What about making it into a film?’ And I said, ‘That’s a great idea.’
“So, I jumped at it. We began that process probably in 2002, 2003. And then it was couple years later, 2005, that we brought it to DreamWorks Animation. I’m sure you all know the development process can be very lengthy. By the time 2011 rolled around, we had a version of the script that everyone liked and wanted to move forward on. And what was interesting is, if you look at the script that got green lit in 2011, it bears very little resemblance to the movie that we made.”
Making history fun and accessible
I personally loved the story line and all of the glimpses into history. I have always believed that if you can “trick” kids into learning by making it fun, they will naturally have a desire to learn more. I was the kid who would read a book (I loved historical fiction as an older child) and would then spend weeks pouring over every piece of information I could find about the topic of the book I had read, whether it was a historical event or a person in history. Mr. Peabody and Sherman had the same effect on me. I loved hearing Rob Minkoff’s take on that same topic:
“That was what I remembered growing up kind of loving about Mr. Peabody & Sherman was that they would go to places. And as a kid, I didn’t know who they were talking to or what it was about. But, I did after I saw the show. It was like, ‘Oh, that’s Leonardo di Vinci, or this is Magellan,’ these are characters that I would later learn about, you know?
“And kind of the fun of it from a kid’s point of view sort of made it more interesting to me and made it more accessible.
So, I actually became very interested as a kid in history because I never saw it as the sort of boring things in a book with dates that I had to memorize.
“I saw it as it was alive. There were characters, great stories.
“You kind of have a good positive association with it, which is good because I think, later, you take that with you. So, my hope is that, it’s something that sort of works on both levels. It’s not a history lesson per se. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s funny. It’s an adventure. But, still, there’s something in where a kid who doesn’t know who King Tut is will suddenly go, ‘Oh, who is that?’ and then–‘Oh, that’s a real person. Oh, what was he about?’ and learn more.
And I think that’s a great side benefit.
Interview with Ty Burrell and Max Charles
Our interview with Ty Burrell and Max Charles was so much fun. Here is just a snippet of the interesting questions that our room of bloggers raised and the responses we got from the actors:
Celebrating the family, all varieties!
One blogger asked, “I love how the movie has this concept of a nontraditional family. Is that something that appealed to both of you?”
Ty Burrell: “I mean, I’m an adoptive parent. I loved the idea, the universal idea that love is love.
And in not in the near future, dogs won’t be adopting kids, but the idea that externals are really irrelevant, which it’s so funny that things move so slowly, but seems so obvious.
“But, for some reason, that’s not evident all the time.
“I loved that about the movie. I love the process that Peabody and Sherman go through, which is, Peabody basically initially adopts him I think with the idea of being his mentor, which, if you’ve ever seen the originals, that’s really where that lives.
“He’s the mentor. Sherman’s the protégé. Even though he’s adopted, and he asks Sherman to always call him Mr. Peabody, there’s no dad.
So, the movie is really about that growing from mentor-protégé to father and son and that they love each other and them kind of realizing that as the movie goes on.
Where would you go in the WABAC?
Mr. Peabody’s adventures take place all over time and space, thanks to the WABAC time machine. We asked both Ty Burrell and Max Charles, “If you had a WABAC Machine, where would you go and why?”
Max Charles: “Either back to the old Mr. Peabody & Sherman or dinosaurs. Well…Maybe not get too close to dinosaurs, stay in the WAYBAC.”
Ty Burrell: “I would first go probably to somewhere in the mid-’80s right before I cut my hair into a mullet and just try to warn myself of the impending doom. I would like to not necessarily even meet but just see Buster Keaton. I’m a big Buster Keaton fan, and just see how he did what he did because I still find it a complete mystery how a house that falls on him and that kind of crazy comedy that I find it impossible. So, I’d like to see how that’s done.”
Now the question is…Where (or when) would YOU go in the WABAC time machine?
Connect with Mr. Peabody Online
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