Yesterday, I took the kids to see Mr. Peabody and Sherman on its opening day. The movie is based on the show Peabody’s Improbable History from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show of the 1960s. While I was a fan of the show as a kid, the light came on while watching it as an adult.
Mr. Peabody is a remarkably talented and accomplished gay man who also happens to be a dog. He’s a genius who is an inventor, adviser to presidents and Nobel Laureate, among other things. When he finds a baby boy left in a box in an alley, Mr. Peabody decides to legally adopt the boy, whom he names Sherman.
Sherman seems to be a happy, curious and well-adjusted child considering he spends much of his time traveling through time meeting famous people. When Sherman goes to school, he’s obviously far ahead of many of the other students. He falls in with a brainy crowd but is taunted by the popular kids because his father is–a dog.
After an incident with another child, a woman from Protective Services steps in and threatens to take Sherman away from Mr. Peabody. Regardless of the facts of the incident, she doesn’t believe that children should be raised by dogs. She tells Mr. Peabody, “The courts gave him to you and the courts can take him away.”
It’s a thinly veiled reference to the absurd adoption laws still on the books in some states, including North Carolina. Mr. Peabody is an accomplished, loving, if unaffectionate, father and Sherman is a happy, but somewhat nerdy, kid who quite obviously loves Mr. Peabody. The courts, though, could remove Sherman from the home just because his father is a dog.
It’s a kid’s movie so it has a happy ending. Everybody realizes that Mr. Peabody is a good Dad and Sherman clearly belongs with him. The fact that Mr. Peabody is a dog is just irrelevant. Let’s hope we all get there sooner than later.