On the airplane, given an undistinguished selection of films I didn’t care to see, I chose “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” (from the creators of Bullwinkle and Rocky) as it seemed innocuous and it was, after all, about a dog or so I thought. I shouldn’t have been surprised that this animated film was also searching, profound, and progressive about parent-child relations, growing up, and the nature of love and families.
Mr. Peabody is a beagle-like dog like the ones we have come to know and love as Snoopy
and as Gromit.
All of these friendly beagles have been smart, but none reaches to Nobel Prize-winning status like Mr. Peabody. He is the exact opposite of the bumbling clueless dads we see on television and in commercials. He is all-knowing, all-talented and kindly, having adopted Sherman whom he found abandoned,
and teaching him everything he knows, perhaps ad nauseum.
But, like many of us parents, although he protects and defends Sherman, he finds it hard to tell him how much he loves him
and to acknowledge that Sherman is growing up and is ready for more responsibility.
As they travel through time in Mr. Peabody’s machine, accompanied by the bratty little girl from Sherman’s school who, you guessed it, becomes his first love,
Sherman learns to stand up for himself and Mr. Peabody to express his love for Sherman. When Sherman proudly declares his allegiance to the only father he has ever known and says “I am a dog,” I defy you to keep a dry eye.
In today’s world, what constitutes a family is up for dispute, with many sticking to the old model of mother, father, and two perfect children, but many also accepting that families may come in all colors, genders, and perhaps even species. This movie’s messaging is great, the animation brilliant and the lines hysterically funny. You should see it, with or without your own inter-species companion, and you will agree that “every dog needs a boy.”