"If a boy can adopt a dog, I see no reason why a dog can't adopt a boy," says a judge -- which explains how a brilliant, bespectacled beagle, Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell), is able to raise orphaned Sherman (voiced by Max Charles) as his own. Education is important, so Mr. Peabody teaches Sherman world history by transporting him to different eras, using a time-traveling machine, the WABAC (Wavelength Acceleration Bidirectional Asychronous Controller), that's secreted in his New York apartment. Their nemesis is a nosy social worker, Miss Grunion (voiced by Allison Janney), who believes that even a Nobel prize-winning, Olympic medalist dog is not a suitable parent for a human, particularly when Sherman bites a teasing, competitive classmate, feisty Penny Peterson (voiced by Ariel Winter). That upsets not only Miss Grunion but also Penny's parents (voiced by Leslie Mann and Stephen Colbert).
When Mr. Peabody invites everyone for a peace-making dinner, Sherman disobeys his dad and shows Penny the WABAC, ostensibly to prove that George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree. Things go awry when Penny propels them on an unexpected adventure that starts in ancient Egypt, where she finds herself betrothed to 9-year-old child Pharoah Tutankhamun (voiced by Zach Callison). They discover Agamemnon (voiced by Patrick Warburton) just before the sacking of the ancient city of Troy and visit with Leonardo Da Vinci (voiced by Stanley Tucci) and Albert Einstein (voiced by Mel Brooks). Not surprisingly, their hi-jinks rupture the space-time continuum -- which Mr. Peabody is compelled to try to repair and restore.
Created by Ted Key, the characters are drawn from "Peabody's Improbably History," short skits that were part of Jay Ward's "The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show," broadcast on Saturday mornings (1959 to 1964). Scripted by Craig Wright (HBO's "Six Feet Under") and directed by Rob Minkoff ("Stuart Little"), the inventive animation is stunning, the puns funny and the 3D effects impressive.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" is a zany, surprisingly educational 7 -- for kids and their parents.