MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN
Like Father, Like Son
Rob Minkoff says that Mr. Peabody and Sherman are a classic movie team, "like
Laurel and Hardy, Batman and Robin, Holmes and Watson." That's heady company,
but Mr. Peabody isn't your typical beagle: he is nothing less than a business
titan, inventor, scientist, Nobel Laureate, gourmet, Olympic medalist, and
genius - who just happens to be a dog.
Peabody possesses the genius of Einstein, the wit of Oscar Wilde, the daring of
Indiana Jones, the deductive skills of Sherlock Holmes, the sartorial style of
James Bond, and the culinary skills of Mario Batali. The one thing that
challenges Peabody is keeping up with his adopted boy Sherman. Peabody devotes
himself to Sherman, from whom he learns the one thing even a genius has to
figure out - parenthood.
Ty Burrell, who voices Peabody, brings additional shadings to an already richly
conceived character. But initially, says Minkoff, the "Modern Family" star
wasn't an obvious choice. "Ty is famous and beloved for playing put-upon dad
Phil Dunphy in 'Modern Family,' and Phil isn't the sharpest tool in the shed.
But when we put his performance together with the character of Peabody, it
really locks into Peabody's personality."
"When you think about it, Mr. Peabody and Sherman were the original 'Modern
Family,'" Minkoff jokes. "What could be more modern than a dog as a parent?"
Producer Alex Schwartz ("Journey to the Center of the Earth") notes that Burrell
"brings humanity and warmth to Peabody, as well as tremendous humor and a unique
Burrell certainly had his work cut out for him; after all, he's playing a
character that, he describes as "essentially perfect, which is a very
interesting kind of character to play because I am so imperfect. Peabody makes
almost no mistakes, expect in fatherhood, as all dads do. He can think himself
out of any situation or problem, except when it comes to dealing with Sherman."
Burrell prepped for the role by watching the classic television shorts upon
which the film is based. "From that, I would find my way back into my own
voice," he explains. "Peabody speaks with such precision; his consonants are
always very clear."
Burrell's on-screen son is voiced by young actor Max Charles (ABC-TV's "The
Neighbors," "The Amazing Spider-Man"), who, says Alex Schwartz, brings an
authentic "kid's voice" to Sherman. "Max is very funny, has fantastic timing and
an adorable voice that sounds like he's chewing on marbles."
Minkoff adds: "Max performs with emotion, depth, heart and humor. That's not
easy to find in a young actor."
Charles' Sherman is open, enthusiastic and over-curious. Growing up with his
adoptive dad - the time-traveling super-genius Mr. Peabody - gives Sherman many
opportunities for adventure. Like most youngsters, Sherman has a penchant for
trouble and sometimes finds himself in over his head, but Sherman always makes
certain to fix even the most difficult problems he creates.
"Sherman is a genuine kid," says Minkoff. "He's quite naive at times, but he's
actually a terrific student of Mr. Peabody's because one of the special things
they do together is travel through history. Peabody has taken the time to
introduce Sherman to many of history's greatest events."
"Sherman is a kid through and through," Schwartz elaborates. "He's intelligent
and a quick learner, but at the same time, he doesn't always think things
through and tends to leap before he looks."
As any parent knows, those kinds of "leaps" can lead to breakage - and for
Sherman, breaking the rules of time travel has extraordinary consequences. Says
Max Charles: Sherman is "a normal kid who gets to do some unusual stuff, like
travel back in time."
Sherman learns a lot about everything from Mr. Peabody, and as Charles sees it
the reverse is also true. "Peabody also learns a lot from Sherman, like how to
be a little more laid back, and a little more trusting."
"Peabody realizes that Sherman's imperfections are what make him so wonderful,"
adds Burrell, "and that it's really worth trying to make himself more
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