The Peanuts Movie Review
I’m just going to come out and say it: I’m not a fan of the Peanuts. Sorry, but it’s true. While my mom, my uncle, my aunt, and my grandparents adore the the adventures of the Peanuts gang, I never understood the appeal. I didn’t grow up with it, never really watched the holiday specials, and to me the franchise seemed stale and dated. But don’t sharpen your pitchforks and light your torches just yet! Why? Because thanks to the careful handling of the source material, The Peanuts Movie is by far one of the most charming animated films of the year.
Based on Charles M. Schulz’s classic comic strips, The Peanuts Movie brings Charlie Brown and his friends to the silver screen. The film is written by Cornelius Uliano as well as Craig and Brian Schulz (the creator’s son and grandson, respectively). The story is simple: Charlie Brown is a screw-up, but he dreams of becoming a winner. When a mysterious little red-headed girl moves into the neighborhood, Charlie Brown is suddenly struck with the love bug, and he embarks on a quest to impress her and better himself in the process. In the meantime, there’s a second story that focuses on Snoopy and Woodstock and their imaginary battle against the dreaded Red Baron. Both plots come together to create a heartwarming story that’s strong from beginning to end.
In this day and age, it would’ve been easy to modernize such a classic franchise. Sometimes it can turn out to be a nightmare. But not once during the film do the Peanuts tackle social media, tablets, or video games. And not once do the kids come together to do the Harlem Shake (thank God). Producer Paul Feig and director Steve Martino worked directly with Schulz’s family while making this film, and it definitely shows. The animation is a perfect blend of the new and the old, and has dimension while still looking completely hand drawn. Schulz’s world is bright and colorful and lively. Quite frankly, it’s friendly world that I won’t mind living in.
The voice acting in the film is absolutely great. These kids go such a stellar job at capturing the personalities of each iconic Peanuts character. From what I’ve read, they used original archived voices for Snoopy and Woodstock. Again, it’s a respectable move. Charlie Brown is insecure and hopelessly clumsy, but it’s is kindness and optimism that really shines through. He’s the type of character people can relate to and kids can learn from. His relationship with Snoopy embodies the meaning of “man’s best friend.” The other Peanuts characters- Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Pigpen, and so on- are also excellent and get their time to shine.
The movie is about an hour and a half long, and it maintains its energy from beginning to end. I was never bored. Although the humor was hit and miss for me, there were plenty of cute moments where I couldn’t help but smile. As I said before, the narrative is split in two: one part focused on Charlie Brown and the other focused on his canine companion. One isn’t superior to the other. Both are cleverly interconnected and help the film keep up its momentum.
The Peanuts Movie has a mysterious power to make even those who aren’t familiar with the original source material feel nostalgic. I can’t say that I absolutely adore the Peanuts after seeing the movie, though I do appreciate and admire it more than I did in the past. I respect the heart of Schulz’s work, the innocence and good-natured liveliness he created. The Peanuts Movie is a charming love letter to Charles M. Schulz. It’s the type of film that sticks to its roots and is a good enough time for both children and adults.
Cosmic Grade: 3.7/5 stars