November 11, 2015

Movie Review: The Peanuts Movie

I am not sure The Peanuts Movie will be considered one of the classics, I will probably use the Halloween special as my go to Peanuts special, but that does not change the enjoyment I got from this film. Seriously, there is something about this movie that just really works. It is filled with callbacks to gags and stories from the strip and other shows, but it all adds to the charm contained within its frames (or what takes the place of frames in this digital age). All of the classic characters are there doing what those characters do and I sat there with a smile on my face the whole time. It is not a laugh out loud sort of film, and that is all right.

You know what one of the best things about The Peanuts Movie is? They don’t try to combine it with the real world, they don’t try to make it something that it’s not. Look what happened to Alvin and the Chipmunks, Garfield. and The Smurfs. None of those films really resemble the source material. I am willing to admit this might be a problem with me being stuck in the past when it comes to nostalgic properties like this. Perhaps I do not understand the complete and utter need to update these characters for a modern audience, like they won’t understand them or something. Sometimes it works, but others, well, we’ll leave it there. This is about the Peanuts and how this movie keeps them true. There is value in this.

The Peanuts Movie is an adaptation in the truest form. The movie has a plot that carries it through, but it is much more about the bits and the tone. It plays out a lot like the comic strip would, if you were reading it on a daily basis. It truly feels like a love letter to Charles Schulz. All of the characters have their usual personalities and quirks. The whole thing just leaves me with a grin on my face.

The plot, such as it is, features the arrival of the little red haired girl, with whom Charlie Brown becomes hopelessly infatuated with as he becomes mired in his own unfounded insecurities. We watch him as he struggles with the idea of simply talking to her, while simultaneously dealing with his day to day life. The other thread has Snoopy finding an old typewriter, which he uses to write his novel with him as a WWI Flying Ace taking on his nemesis, the Red Baron. These stories intertwine throughout the whole, making a delightfully entertaining tapestry.

While the strip has made the leap from traditional cel animation to 3D computer animation, the look of the characters is consistent. There was a focused effort to keep the characters as close to their look on the page as possible, while also employing the latest technology. The result is fantastic. It just looks great on the big screen.

I think what helped bring it all together was the writing. Obviously, the two main characters are Charlie Brown and Snoopy, and I loved them both. I identify with Charlie Brown, his issues, insecurities and how they are totally unfounded and all he really needs is a little faith in who he is. I completely identify with it. Then there is Snoopy, the lovable, always there for you sidekick. He sees through all of your BS (it’s true). Just watch him throughout, when he isn’t fighting the Red Baron, he is encouraging Charlie Brown. It is a wonderful relationship there.

Frankly, I am really not quite sure what else to say. This is just a delightful film. I feel there is more going on that the simplistic appearance lets on. It is a genuine adaptation that is true to the source and is just likable. It is not a laugh a minute comedy, but it isn’t meant to be. It has a lot to love in content and look. I have also read there was only the go ahead for one movie and a sequel may be a long way off. This is a good thing. The last thing we need is a rushed sequel, which probably isn’t necessary. I will be happy with just this.

Highly Recommended.

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