Mr. Peabody & Sherman — Christian Movie Review!
In this delightful PG-rated animated comedy great for the whole family (except for younger children), we witness the time-traveling exploits of a high-IQ, articulate canine and his adopted son as they attempt to repair the space-time continuum that they broke. It features the comedic talents of Ty Burrell as Mr. Peabody and some names that younger folks would recognize: Ariel Winters (who is the voice of Sophia on Disney, Jr.) and Karan Brar (from Disney Channel’s Jessie). The movie also features Mel Brooks, Stephen Colbert, and — my personal favorite — Patrick Warburton as the hilarious Agamemnon.
Parental Guidance Issues at a Glance…
Sexual Content: None.
Violence/Gore: This section is why the movie is rated PG and, in my opinion, is probably not suitable for younger kids under eight. There are two scenes that portray two rather violent facts from history: the use of guillotines to behead people during France’s Reign of Terror and ancient Egypt’s custom of disemboweling people while they were still alive. If that sounds pretty intense for a kid’s movie, well, it is — though the film is fairly cartoonish and comical about it all, to a degree. I was a little surprised about how much of these two events were shown or explained in detail. In the first case, we actually see a character placed in the guillotine, we see the blade raised up, and we see the basket below the character’s head. All of it makes it very clear what is about to happen: the head is going to get chopped off and fall into the basket. That can be a scary image for a child to imagine, and the movie makes it clear enough so that a child could understand the execution method and dwell on it later in their mind. For a young child who has never heard of a guillotine or even considered the concept of someone being beheaded, the portrayal of a guillotine in operation — right up to the point where the blade drops (though the character escapes just in time) — could be terrifying. The second scene in Egypt portrays a young girl (grade school age) who is chosen by the young King Tut for marriage. When the wedding terms are explained to the girl, the Egyptian leader says in detailed terms that the union is “eternal,” meaning if King Tut dies before she does, the girl will be killed by means of disembowelment (while she is still alive) and then mummified with the king. To bring the point home, the Egyptian shows a scroll to the girl which has a crudely drawn, cartoonish picture of a person having their bowels pulled out of them, and the cartoon figure is screaming in pain. It makes it clear what is happening (the bowels being pulled out) and that the person is alive while it happens. Again, this is PG animation, so it’s not realistic or graphic, and it looks more like a Sunday comics sketch drawing, but the concept of disembowelment is made clear enough for any kid — even younger ones — to understand roughly what is going on. If you’d rather not have that concept lingering in your child’s imagination, then skip this movie. In the same scene, the Egyptian official takes out a very long knife and is about to cut the girl’s hand to enact a blood oath, and she comes very close to getting stabbed in the hand with a giant blade.
Alcohol/Drug/Smoking Content: None.
Frightening/Intense Content: Besides the things mentioned in “Violence,” there is an emotionally intense scene where a boy’s father seemingly dies.
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Entertainment Value and Film Craft
Frankly, it was an absolute joy to watch this rollicking, lighthearted, laugh-out-loud movie after witnessing the carnage and grisly darkness of 300: Rise of an Empire the night before. I laughed often and loudly during this animated movie that put a mix of subtle adult humor and obvious kid humor. The animation is gorgeous and fun to watch, and the script is intelligent and full of fun twists and turns that keep the movie interesting to the very end. It also gives you a whirlwind tour of historical places and events that add a wide variety of rich atmosphere to the movie. The idea of a dog who somehow has the super-genius of a human like Albert Einstein, and then who adopts a human for a son, is a little weird and takes getting used to, but for the most part the film is self-aware of how silly this is, and it uses the genius-dog-as-a-surrogate-father thing in creative, symbolic ways to present some solid family values.
Even though this movie has some stuff in it that younger children should not watch, there are a huge amount of positive, edifying qualities in this film. For one thing, as the characters travel through time and experience detailed depictions of specific historical events, two of those events that are shown or referenced are straight out of the Bible, when Moses was placed in the Nile as a baby and when God sent the plagues upon Egypt. Both events were portrayed or implied to be real history right alongside the other historical events. It would’ve been very easy to skip over these Biblical events, but the filmmakers chose to include them. It was refreshing to watch a film that treated the Bible as history. Speaking of history, the film explores several important historical events in somewhat accurate detail (with comical, cartoonish elaboration for humor sake), and this makes the movie very educational besides entertaining. In addition, the film brings very positive pro-adoption messages. Also, parental figures and parental authority in general are (for once) shown in a positive light. So many Hollywood movies these days portray children as being without sin, always pure (because of their youth, which actually stems from certain New Age worldviews) and in the right, and parents are always the ones in the wrong and having to apologize at the end. But in this film, we see children making the selfish decisions that cause all of the conflicts in the plot, and the struggle of the film — to some extent — follows the children’s ability to admit that they were being selfish, ask forgiveness, and change their ways. In our “question all authority” culture, this film is refreshing.
Other than keeping younger children away from this movie because of the violent concepts that the film introduces, this movie is a fantastic choice for families. It’s hilarious, fun, and full of positive pro-family messages that will encourage, instruct, and edify both adults and kids alike.
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