Australian Council on Children and the Media

Mr Peabody and Sherman

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Short takes

Not recommended under 5, PG 5-10 (violence; Scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Mr Peabody and Sherman
  • a review of Mr Peabody and Sherman completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 25 March 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 5 to 10 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 10 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Mr Peabody and Sherman
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and animated violence
Length 97 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Mr Peabody and Sherman is an animated comedy about Mr Peabody (voice of Ty Burrell), a dog who has dedicated himself to the pursuit of knowledge and a variety of advanced scientific inventions, including the creation of a time machine. Mr Peabody has adopted a boy named Sherman (Max Charles) as a son and apprentice. Together, they travel through time visiting an array of famous historical figures and getting into considerable trouble along the way.

At school, Sherman gets into an argument with a girl called Penny (Ariel Winter). Penny bullies Sherman about his father being a dog and Sherman apparently bites Penny on the arm. As a consequence Mr. Peabody’s fitness to be a father to come under scrutiny by Ms. Grunion (Allison Janney) from Social Services, who has a particular problem with the idea of a dog being the father of a boy.

While Mr Peabody is trying to sort matters out with Ms Grunion and Penny’s parents, Penny and Sherman are left to their own devices and she persuades him to take her time travelling. However, things take a turn for the worse during a stay in Ancient Egypt when Penny is captured and almost married off to King Tutankhamun. Although Sherman manages to save her, the excessive use of the time machine tears a hole in the space-time continuum. People from every era are torn from their homes and begin bleeding through the gap.

Mr Peabody and Sherman now have to work together to save the world from imminent demise. At the same time, the dangerous journey enables Mr Peabody to learn how to be a good parent, and helps Sherman discover what it means to be a good son.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Time travel; friendship and romance; parent/child relationships; discrimination

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in the film, including:

  • Mr Peabody is almost guillotined while visiting the French Revolution at the beginning of the film. He is taken captive by a mob of revolutionaries and we see others being taken in carts to their deaths and being abused by angry crowds. The guillotine blade falls and we see an image suggesting that Mr. Peabody has been beheaded. Sherman faints, believing Mr. Peabody has been killed. A short time later we see Mr. Peabody unharmed. 
  • After escaping, Mr Peabody is captured again and, in a scene played for comedy, is forced to fence with one of the soldiers.
  • Sherman gets into an argument and then a physical fight with Penny. The principal talks to Mr Peabody about it, showing him a file with pictures of a bite on the girl’s arm that Sherman presumably gave her.
  • Ms Gunion, a large and threatening looking woman, tries to take Sherman from Mr. Peabody. She grabs Sherman by the arm and dragging him away. Mr. Peabody loses control and attacks the woman biting her on the arm. A dog catcher places a noose around Mr. Peabody’s neck and drags him away, the implication being that Mr. Peabody, as a dog, will be destroyed as a dangerous animal.  Mr. Peabody is later released uninjured.
  • After travelling back in time to the Trojan War Mr Peabody finds himself in front of a group of Greek soldiers. One of them points his sword at Mr Peabody and says “kill him”, we hear the same soldier say “We’re gonna destroy their houses and make the streets run red with blood” followed by “Eat my blood you Trojan dogs”. A sword fight breaks out between the Greek and Trojan soldiers. A soldier threatens Sherman, knocking him to the ground and attempting to slash him with his sword but Mr. Peabody intervenes, knocks out the soldier and fights off several others.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • images of Egyptian statues of snakes with large fangs and images of mummified bodies, one with a skeletal looking hand protruding from its wrappings.  
  • a creepy one armed wooden robot child invented by Leonardo Da Vinci that roams the city streets looking for its father.  People in the street run away in fear when they see the wooden robot child approaching.  In one scene the robot’s arm falls off. 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be scared by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern for this age group

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are limited sexual references in the film, including:

  • When Mr Peabody warns Sherman that there is a booby-trap in the ancient Egyptian tomb they are trying to escape, Sherman giggles and says “You said boobie”.
  • After present-day Penny and Sherman travel back in time to talk to a version of Mr Peabody from the past, Mr Peabody’s future self suddenly appears and tells Sherman “I’ve got to get you out of here before you touch yourself” which causes Penny’s parents and Ms Grunion to gasp in horror, as it appears to be a reference to masturbation.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • In one scene we learn that Penny aged seven is about to marry King Tut (then a young boy aged seven). Some mild flirting occurs between the two with the boy referring to Penny as his “Sweet little desert blossom”. Sherman appears jealous.
  • Sherman accidentally puts his head through a painting of a woman with exposed cleavage. 
  • In one scene a Greek soldier says he is in love with a woman and he picks her up and carries her off through a worm hole. At the end of the film we see the same man marrying

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Mr. Peabody makes cocktails for Penny’s parents and himself.

Coarse language

The film contains occasional low–level use of coarse language, name calling and toilet humour. Examples include:

  •  darn tootin’, barbarians, butt, crap, liar, Trojan dogs, fool, stupid, dumb, and loser

In a nutshell

Mr Peabody and Sherman is a heart-warming story about a dog trying to be a parent, and a young boy trying to grow up. Although Sherman had always followed the rules his adoptive father had set in place for him, he begins to want to be independent and explore the world on his own. While he initially rebels, Sherman and his father come to find a peaceful middle-ground of respect and admiration for each other’s own personal identity. While Mr Peabody has had trouble expressing emotion throughout the course of his life, he learns that it is ok to tell his son that he loves him, and to show affection in the way he has always wanted to be able to.

Children under eight may be scared by some scenes and parents may be concerned by the amount of violence shown. The film is therefore not recommended for children under five and parental guidance is recommended for the five to ten age group.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Mr Peabody tells Sherman that every great relationship starts from a place of conflict and evolves into something richer.
  • If you don’t like a person, it’s quite often because they remind you of something you don’t like about yourself – self- reflection is therefore crucial.
  • Having another person believe in you can help you to believe in yourself.

Parents may also wish to discuss the negative and limited roles the film gives to female characters. Penny is for the most part presented as a selfish, manipulating, and un-likeable bully.

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