A Family Film for Summer

A Family Film for Summer

As I noted in a recent blog, summer is often a season for good books. With families on vacation and out touring the countryside more than normal, it’s also a good time for blockbuster movies, as evidenced by the success of the latest entry in the “Jurassic” franchise.

Yet my nomination for great summer viewing comes from last year. As is so often the case these days, we wind up seeing far more films via DVD release than in theaters. And the film that I’m recommending as great fun is the much-maligned Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

I figured we were in for a treat when a friend mentioned over lunch the same day we watched it how enjoyable it was; his appraisal proved on target.

Matching the Past

rocky-bullwinkleNow, I had my doubts that a computer-animated, twenty-first century update could be any better than the old cartoons that were part of the classic Rocky & Bullwinkle show. (When my wife and I saw the remake of Rocky, we hooted so loudly that younger patrons in the theater wondered, What’s so funny?)

Honestly, I couldn’t remember many specifics about the 1960s-era cartoons. Just that Mr. Peabody was a precocious pooch with an amazing grasp of science and history, and Sherman a shy boy who learned about life from his adoptive “parent.”

From the standpoint of history, the new movie delivered in admirable fashion. Mr. Peabody’s “Way Back” machine took the duo through numerous historic settings, set against the ongoing plot line of a female student who bullies Sherman but winds up as his best friend.

Accounting Magic

Admittedly, I’m not the brightest bulb in the drawer when it comes to finances. Which is why it’s so good that I married a woman with an accounting degree. I haven’t had to prepare a tax return for 36 years, just sign ours when she completes it.

I mention that because it’s a bit beyond me how a movie that cost $145 million to make and grossed nearly $273 million worldwide gets labeled a “bomb.” I guess there’s a lot of expensive advertising and promotion involved with movies (although with my limited money mind I wonder, How expensive can that be?)

Yet, when I refreshed my memory online, there was a story about DreamWorks taking a $57 million write-down in the first fiscal quarter of 2014 because of this movie’s box office struggles.

Future Profitability

peabodyAside from the box office trouble, I also wonder how much money the studio will recoup from DVD sales. If others find this film as enjoyable as we did, it ought to rake in the bucks. Why do I say that? Three reasons:

  • It’s safe for the whole family to watch.

In the days of R-rated (and even PG at times) films full of profanity and obscenity, just finding something you can sit down with your children (or grandchildren) is always a positive.

  • It’s fun.

Sure, there are some corny jokes along the way, but the creativity and imagination behind Mr. Peabody and Sherman are impressive. Not just the sticky situations in which they often find themselves, but the inventive ways they escape.

  • It’s heartwarming.

When the bottom line of a film focuses on friendship, family and love, it rates as an admirable production—one I only wish were common on today’s silver screen.


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