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Peabody here.

I saw the trailer for the new Mr. Peabody movie and it looked terrible. They used that weird animation where everything looks round, also the voice had none of the intonations of the “real” Peabody (for some reason, the trailer had the original English voices, maybe they didn’t get their act together to make a dubbed trailer in time for the release here), also the scenes looked pretty stupid. I went back home and checked out Peabody on wikipedia and it turns out that they made 91 episodes! I had no idea.

Anyway, here’s my real question: Why bother making a Mr. Peabody movie if you’re not going to do it well? I understand that lots of moviemakers are hacks and there will always be a huge audience for crap in any case, so I’m certainly not demanding that all movies be “good” (in whatever sense that means, from my perceptions). But there are lots and lots of opportunities to make crap movies, there are a million toys and video games and comic book characters and fairy tales and breakfast cereals and whatever that can be used to make a stupid movie and sell millions of tickets. Why take something great like Peabody and screw it up? I just don’t see the point. I’d think that anyone who’d go so far into the wayback machine to dredge up this old cartoon would be doing it out of love. If your only goal is to make money with a generic cartoon project, why bother with Peabody in the first place.

I suppose it’s possible that the creators of this movie really are Peabody fans but just have really really bad taste and think that what they’re doing is an improvement. Just like those bozos who colorized Shakespeare etc.

15 Comments

  1. Jonathan (another one) says:

    1. You need something that baby boomers have heard of. Teenagers will see anything.
    2. You need something where the rights are cheap, or cheap enough. Jay Ward productions ahs already sold off Rocky and Bullwinkle and Dudley Do-Right to the movies, so Peabody and Sherman is next. (Fractured Fairy Tales doesn’t have enough continuity of plot.)
    3. You need something you liked at least a little, so you can promote it without hating yourself. Even if it’s terrible, it might lead people back to the original.

    After that, aren’t you committing the 1/N fallacy? N properties fulfill these three criteria — the chance that Peabody is the next movie made is 1/N.

  2. Alex says:

    Peabody looks pretty bad, I agree, but I think the Rubicon was crossed with Peter Berg’s Battleship.

    I think we’re living in an era of “hey, people have heard of…” pitches in Hollywood.

  3. Andrew — Does all 3D animation look weird to you? How do you feel about Toy Story or The Incredibles? I thought they were both fantastic, but then I also think like the stick figures with no faces in xkcd and think it’s one of the funniest cartoons ever written along with Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes.

    I take it you were using some kind of rhetorical license. I don’t think anyone (or at least not many ones) start out with the idea to do something lousy. That is, I doubt the producers of this one thought, “Hey, if we do a not-so funny remake of that Mr. Peabody thing from Bullwinkle, maybe we can make a quick buck.”

    The trailer’s easy to find on YouTube or just from Google. It didn’t look too bad to me as far as these things go, but why, oh why, did they have to introduce a love interest for Sherman?

    • Andrew says:

      Bob,

      I’ve not seen Toy Story or the Incredibles but I have no general objection to 3d animation. It just didn’t make sense to me for Peabody. They ruined the classic look, which, combined with changing the memorable voice, seems like a bad move to me.

      • They’re great and there’s no earlier references to spoil them! But I know our tastes are rather different.

        Not much is happening in 2D these days. I somehow don’t think the target audience of kids is going to be too keen on that wonky late-50s/early-60s animation we grew up on. I’m sort of surprised you don’t like the new animation given how much you like all things new (like writing) over earlier things.

        I haven’t actually seen any of the Pixar movies played in 3D, but I’m guessing they’re awesome that way, especially at an IMAX theater.

        I’m bracing myself for your rant when Hollywood remakes Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Warner Brothers classics!

        • Andrew says:

          Bob:

          There actually is a TV show with modern Bugs Bunny cartoons, and it’s not nearly as good as the old ones. I’m not the only one who thinks this, the kids think so too. Here I think I see the economic motivation: it may well be cheaper to make new cartoons than to pay the cost of running the old ones.

  4. Phil says:

    All you kids get off my lawn.

    • Andrew says:

      Phil:

      Just to be clear: I’m not saying these people shouldn’t be allowed to make a bad Peabody movie, and I’m certainly not objecting to movies that kids like even if I don’t. I just don’t see the point. If you want to make a movie in this modern style (or, however you want to call it), that’s fine, but why make a Peabody movie? Why not pick a subject that kids will be more interested in? It just seems pointless to make a Peabody movie without including what made Peabody cool in the first place.

  5. jonathan says:

    Similar question: they make a Lego movie but with CGI not actual Legos. How is it then a Lego movie? Why not stop animation?

  6. Ken Williams says:

    The movie angle seems to showcase historical periods and figures. And it looks kind of fun, to be honest. I feel like seeing it with my kids.

  7. Eli Rabett says:

    You can bet they tested the images on kids, who see things differently. Think teletubbies. It is not incompetence it is marketing

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