Recently, I was invited on behalf of ModernMom to attend a special press day at the DreamWorks campus in Burbank and get a sneak peak behind the scenes of their upcoming animated film, “Mr. Peabody and Sherman.”
I’ll be honest, going into the day, most of what I knew about these two characters came from Bullwinkle re-runs and that one scene in that one Simpsons episode. But I jumped at the chance to check out the DreamWorks animation studio, as I’ve been a fan of their work for quite some time. Also I heard there would be food and awards.
(They won’t let you taste
the awards, though)
After a scrumptious breakfast, I was ushered into the screening room to get the full Mr. Peabody and Sherman experience (look out for my review next week). Then we were whisked away on a magical tour explaining just what went into the making of this film.
Think of it as a drastically less edible version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory tour.
There were four different rooms along the tour, each representing a different setting from the movie. For example, we went to Ancient Egypt and learned about story boarding and development. Renaissance Italy brought with it character creation and animation modelling. In Marie Antoinette’s France, I learned about/was dizzyingly confused by the more technical side of animation
(if you had any idea the amount of work that went into designing the time-travel wormhole, your brain would explode). Finally, in Troy, I got to experience how animation design is used. I also got to draw a doggy.
(Or, according to the
directions, an “8” with some extra stuff)
After all that learning, we all got to enjoy a nice lunch with the production team (during which I’m pretty sure I ate all of the meat in the world), before finishing up with some roundtable interviews with the big names behind the project.
While discussing the film, it quickly became clear that Peabody was a passion project for director Rob Minkoff. But nobody was more adamant about making sure this movie was done right than executive producer Tiffany Ward, daughter of Peabody creator Jay Ward.
In discussing the arduous process of making Peabody happen, she said, “I found that everything has its time and when the things come together in the right way, which they have with this team and DreamWorks Animation, it becomes
The story deals with the problem of bullying, obviously a hot-button issue for parents everywhere. Ariel Winter, who voices Penny, made a very valid point about her character, saying that she’s “just incredibly intimidated.”
“I think that when [Penny] gets threatened by Sherman a little bit because he comes in and kind of takes her place, I think she just acts out to take what she feels is hers back,” Winter explained. “I don’t find Penny to be a bully in a sense. Because in the end, Penny really realizes some things about herself and we see that she has a huge heart and she really ends up caring for Sherman
and Mr. Peabody.”
This brings to light something that’s rarely addressed in pop culture: bullying is a complicated issue and it’s rarely black and white. As a former teacher, I’ve seen that word thrown around recklessly – almost turned into a buzzword – which makes it so refreshing to see it depicted from a more realistic viewpoint.
All this depth and understanding
from a 16 year-old.
Beyond that, the group ruminated on how adorable Max Charles
(Sherman) was. Consensus: “overwhelmingly.”
(I’ve been trying to pinch his cheeks on my screen for about
20 minutes, now)
When all was said and done, I came out of the event with 2
very solid pieces of information:
1. The DreamWorks campus is awesome and I want to
2. Those involved in creating this movie care very
deeply for it – a fact that is evident in every nuanced corner of the film. Trust me, these people have poured their hearts and souls into this movie and it shows.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman hits theaters on March 7th. Visit the official website to learn more, and check out the trailer below: