Image Credit: Everett Collection; PRN/PR PhotosDreamWorks Animation has found a way back to ‘The WABAC Machine.’
That’s the computerized device used by the talking, genius dog Mr. Peabody and his pet boy, Sherman, on the old Rocky & Bullwinkle Show to travel through time and discover improbable things about history’s greatest figures. The project was just announced internally to the DreamWorks staff, with Robert Downey Jr. signed to voice the super-smart, bespectacled canine.
The cartoons were created in the late 1950s and ’60s, but remained popular for decades, though they may have fallen off the radar for those under 30. The new animated feature, planned for 2014, aims to bring the duo back to the pop culture mainstream. “Certainly for Boomers, they’re in the sweet spot of our childhood animation memories, but beyond there it gets a little bit, well, not quite as familiar,” says director Rob Minkoff (The Lion King).
A script has been penned by Jeffrey Ventimilia and Joshua Sternin, who wrote for the The Simpsons, That ’70s Show, and adapted the recent feature version of Yogi Bear. Minkoff won’t divulge which historical figures Peabody and Sherman will meet, but said the movie will focus not only on their time traveling, but also their origin story.
“Mr. Peabody is this genetic anomaly,” Minkoff says. “He does have brothers and sisters, all of them non-speaking, no super-smart dogs. He’s an outcast, but has overcome it by being so great at so many things.” Sherman, on the other hand, is not dimwitted, but admittedly wide-eyed and naive. That role hasn’t yet been cast.
Minkoff said the studio considered making the film as a mix of animation and live-action, but chose instead to make it fully computer animated — and in 3-D.
Downey hasn’t recorded any lines yet, but DreamWorks artists have already designed a concept image of what the new Mr. Peabody will look like. See it in the next issue of Entertainment Weekly, out Jan. 21, and note the uncanny resemblance to the Iron Man star.