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  • Jared Huizenga

'Mr. Peabody & Sherman' - Making the Old Feel New Again

More than six decades ago, the most unlikely of duos – the world’s smartest K-9 and a bespectacled orphan – began traveling through time and space, sharing some of history’s most important figures with the children of world.

For years, Mr. Peabody and Sherman used their WABAC machine to bring history to life as part of the universe of Minnesota’s favorite cartoon sons, Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Next weekend, the duo returns in a feature-length film, which gives them, their time machine and their entire universe an updated look.

“Although we were working with something old, we wanted to make it new again,” director Rob Minkoff said of the film, which opens Friday, March 7.

While the film took three years develop and produce, it actually goes back much further than that.

Following a Feb. 26 screening at the Mall of America, Minkoff told the crowd he spent 12 years developing the project.

But it wasn’t until Minkoff joined DreamWorks Animation in 2006 – reteaming him with former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg – that the project gained much momentum.

Minkoff said that while Katzenberg thought the project would require a lot of time and work, it would give the duo the chance to team up again for the first time since “The Lion King.”

“A big part of it was the chance to work together again,” he said.

Minkoff grew up a fan of animation, including Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and after high school attended the California Institute of the Arts, which also served as a launching pad for Tim Burton and hundreds of other animators.

He landed a job with Disney, working on projects including “The Great Mouse Detective,” “The Brave Little Toaster” and “The Black Cauldron.” By the late ’80s he was directing Roger Rabbit shorts and in 1994 he made his feature-length directorial debut “The Lion King.”

“When I first got started [in animation], it was kind of at a low point,” Minkoff said of his early days. “It felt like it was a dying artform.”

Fortunately, he said, there were a lot of dedicated and talented people whose goal was to return animation to its heyday, while keeping the medium moving forward.

“Mr. Peabody & Sherman” is a tribute to that, employing 3D computer animation to give the duo an up-to-date, but also utilizing Tiffany Ward – daughter of series creator Jay Ward – as an executive producer, whose job included making sure the film stayed true to the original series.

“We wanted to provide nostalgia for those [who were familiar with the show], but we also wanted to reach a new audience.”

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