The Peanuts Movie review
I can’t imagine a Christmas or a Halloween without the mention of a young boy trying to lead his school friends in a school play or debate the existence of the Great Pumpkin. This young man is everyone’s favorite blockhead, Charlie Brown. Yes, Charlie, Snoopy and his friends from Peanuts have created such a timeless look at childhood while maintaining a deep philosophical moral. The comics and television specials are something that I’m sure everyone has seen at least once. The newspapers and television networks still run Peanuts because their morals never fall out of style and everyone seems to feel nostalgic whenever it’s mentioned.
I’m a big fan of Peanuts and hold these characters to such a high standard because creator Charles Schulz took it just as seriously. I think a lot of people have felt like Charlie Brown at one point, wondering how life can be such a good thing when their own failures seem to cloud ones happiness. It may seem downbeat, but Peanuts felt real despite having an exaggerated world where adults are never seen. To top it off, the writing still came off as funny as it’s simplicity only added to the appeal. The Peanuts Movie takes our classic characters to the big screen on a personal journey.
Carefully never stating a time nor a setting, we open in the beginning of December where we see Charlie Brown is still trying to fly his kite. If you know the comics, he fails and it becomes a part of the “kite-eating tree”, though this time, he seems to be tired of always failing. His sister Sally and his friends Linus, Lucy, Schroder, Peppermint Patty, Marcie and the rest of the gang know Charlie well enough that they always seem him as a klutz. Things change when they notice a new kid is moving right across from Charlie.
Sensing his first feelings of puppy love, Charlie decides that he wants to change himself to start fresh with the new little Red-Haired Girl. After a session with Lucy (and paying her the usual five cents), he tries several new things like trying to win a talent show or a dance contest. He also deals with a sudden popularity when he sees that he delivers a perfect score on a recent school-wide test. On the sidelines, Charlie Brown’s dog Snoopy gets caught up in his own imagination as he continues to fight the Red Baron in occasional plane dog fights.
As a computer animated movie, I was worried that the simplicity of Peanuts would be compromised. I can safely say that The Peanuts Movie stays true to the nature to the classic comics…for the most part. To start, the animation is amazing. Unlike something like Pixar or DreamWorks, Fox’s Blue Sky Studios have found a best of both worlds by giving the world of Peanuts an upgrade while still feeling like a hand drawn work of art. Another big plus are the voices. Unlike the TV specials where the child voices were always wooden and stilted, the kids portraying the characters can actually act. Pretty well too considering the challenge.
Story wise, it does feel like the kind of plot that Schulz would have given; something simple and emotional for Charlie Brown while leaving the highly imaginative side story to Snoopy. I do feel though that while The Peanuts Movie is smart, the deep philosophical dialogue is not that prominent for something more of a crowd-pleaser. I do understand however that while the comics and TV specials were allowed to do their own thing, they’ve now got to play by movie rules, and it does so well enough that even Schulz would have been proud to have his name on the picture.
I’ll give this four and a half Snoopys on his doghouse out of five. The Peanuts Movie is a tribute to one of the most iconic set of characters created for the newspapers. It’s defiantly something that everyone will appreciate, though I’d say start with the comics and TV specials first before seeing the movie.