Some of you might remember the characters Mr. Peabody & Sherman from the Peabody’s Improbable History segments from the Rocky and Bullwinkle show. The vintage cartoon aired back in the 1960s and was created by Jay Ward. DreamWorks is now bringing the father and son team to the big screen! Yes, dogs are man’s best friend but Mr. Peabody is no ordinary dog. This canine is brilliant and travels back in time with his ingenious invention, the Wayback machine. Mr. Peabody’s side kick is his adopted son Sherman. The pair are always off on an adventure, meeting extraordinary people. I attended a media day to watch clips of the upcoming animation as well as sit in on a Q&A with Ty Burrell who voices Mr. Peabody, plus Rob Minkoff (director) and Tiffany Ward (Executive producer).
The following are fun Q&A moments that will give you an introduction to the film. Also, make sure to watch the new trailer to see the duo in action:
Q: When did the plans for this film begin?
Tiffany Ward: Rob Minkoff came to me wanting to do Mr. Peabody & Sherman 10 years ago, and what better tutelage and caretaker could I have than Rob? We started it then, and it’s just taken a while to get to the correct phase. We wanted it to be perfect, and I think it is.
Q: Tiffany, what was your greatest concern about having this project and this love of your father’s come to the big screen?
Ms. Tiffany Ward: Well, my whole job has been really to preserve my dad’s characters as he inspired them, and also to make sure, as they move forward into newer development, that they stayed pretty true to the originals. So, my issues were the integrity of the characters. Rob and DreamWorks Animation were clearly on board with keeping that legacy alive. And as you can see, I think they’re very true to the original cartoon. So, it hasn’t been a fight at all. It’s just been wonderful that they have created a new version of Mr. Peabody & Sherman.
Rob Minkoff: At first, we were thinking, we would have to find somebody who did a Bill Scott impression. I think we quickly came to the conclusion that that would be a bad idea because we couldn’t really find anyone that did that. We liberated our thinking and thought, “Who is this character?”, and “Who is this character for today” because this was something that was done over 50 years ago. And we wanted to make sure that we really brought him to life in the right way.
And I think that when we started to listen to Ty’s voice, as we do in animation, we sort of steal something of him and put it against the character. We found that he embodied all the different aspects we were trying to convey, not just the intellect or the suave personality, but somehow, there was underlying warmth that we really liked and wanted to bring to this character.
Ty Burrell: It’s good to brush up on history. I can’t say that I learned much more than half my decent primary school teachers taught me. But, I would say that there is a really cool aspect to this film in that I think it will allow kids to put personalities to these names, to these historical figures and maybe draw them in to learning more about it. I think education has changed a long time in the “100 years” since I went to grade school, but I think, it was a pretty dry sort of textbook experience. And, even legitimately, just watching it for me, it does make me want to go back and learn more about it just from having these great voice actors put life into those characters.
Q: Ty With your character, and as a dad, how do you feel most like Mr. Peabody and the least like Mr. Peabody as a dad?
Ty Burrell: Most like Mr. Peabody – we adopted, so I very much have felt from the minute I read the script a very strong connection to somebody developing a really strong bond with an adopted child. And least like Peabody in the obvious ways in terms of intellect and skill sets, but also in that Peabody’s sort of trying to learn how to be a sensitive being or my fault is being overly sensitive and overly expressive and overly loving where my kids are running from me. I’m like, one more hug before I leave, just one more, I’ve got one more. And they’re cornered.
Q: If you had your own time machine, who would you want to go back and meet?
Ty Burrell: It wouldn’t be very far. I’d like to go back and meet Buster Keaton, which is not a long trip. Somebody can figure it out.
Rob Minkoff: For me, I’d probably want to go back to 1962 to Liverpool to see the Beatles play at the Cavern.
Tiffany Ward: I would go further back, someone from maybe original Rome.
Q: How important was it to blend education along with the entertainment aspect in a cartoon?
Mr. Rob Minkoff: When I was a kid, there was so much that I learned from cartoons. And it was usually snuck in. I think that’s what’s really important ultimately when you’re making stories and movies that do have kids as an audience, it was always important to me when I got started working at Disney, which was that you never want to talk down to kids, you want to shoot over their heads. A lot of times, people will say, oh, they’re not going to know this. And I said, yes, but how are they going to learn it, right? Of course, they don’t know it. Everybody starts out not knowing something, and they’ve got to hear it from somewhere.
And my hope is that they’ll see it here and maybe get more interested in it, because I was the beneficiary of great teachers when I was in elementary school and high school. I had great history teachers. And the reason they were great is because they knew how to bring it to life in a way that made it a story that was compelling about characters that I was interested in. And when you hear history told in that way, it’s fascinating. And it’s sad when you hear people think of history as a kind of a lifeless, dead, boring thing because it’s really not. Every story that we’ve ever told lives in history.
Q: Baby boomers remember Peabody & Sherman from way back when. But, what’s the awareness right now of youngsters and even their parents who probably weren’t even born when these were first shown on TV? And what is being done to kind of raise the awareness before film comes out? Will the marketing kick in this Christmas?
Tiffany Ward: Well, I agree. I think that young kids won’t know it. I think a lot of the 30, 40 year old parents are somewhat aware of it. And of course, it’s our generation that remembers it better. Yes, our marketing campaign will address that and try to get information out on who Mr. Peabody is and Sherman to have some awareness going into the movie. But, I do believe that, once you get in the movie, even if you have no awareness of the prior characters, you’re going to get everything from what you haven’t seen in the movie so far will explain it.
The film will be in glorious 3D and is set to release in the states on March 7, 2014. I can’t wait to see it. The CGI looks amazing and the characters are charismatic, witty and just dog-on cute!
* This is not a sponsored post. I was invited to the media event to learn more about the movie.