Charles Schultz’s Charlie Brown has been a beloved childhood character for generations, but is hitting a new platform with the recent release of The Peanuts Movie. Tasked with the challenge of making a movie featuring this classic comic book strip character that appealed to the already existing diverse fan base, Steve Martino (Horton Hears a Who, Ice Age: Continental Drift) has had critical success with his film adaptation.
Charlie Brown and the gang are all together again for their big screen debut. As the movie begins, we’re taken into the small town neighborhood bustling with familiar characters, from Lucy and Linus to Schroder and Peppermint Patty. Charlie Brown hits the scene with a blunder (of course), failing yet again to complete his regularly failed tasks: flying a kite and playing baseball.
But, with the arrival of a new girl at school, Charlie Brown seeks to rebrand himself. In an effort to no longer be seen as the boy who always screws up, Charlie takes to finding ways to impress the little red headed girl at school. From learning magic tricks to having Snoopy teach him how to dance, he pulls out all the stops in order to get her to notice him. But, since he’s Charlie Brown, usually things don’t go the way he wants them to.
As the movie progresses, so does Charlie’s quest to win the favor of the little red headed girl. Along the way, Snoopy also gets his fair share of screen time, performing daring aerial adventures atop his doghouse.
The plot of the movie was nothing super complex, but no one was expecting it to be. It stayed true to the old Charlie Brown stories with a hint of modern added in, especially with the soundtrack incorporated. Sure, Charlie Brown still goes to the school dance, but this time the songs that are playing are by artists like Meghan Trainor and Flo Rida.
In addition to Charlie Brown, all of the minor characters’ quirks were nostalgically emphasized as well, with Schroder always playing the piano, Linus carrying his blanket everywhere and Pig-Pen lugging around his usual cloud of dust. Relying on these distinct traits made for some cute quips between the characters that brought a light sense of humor to the film. Snoopy was also heavily featured, though I do think that he came off as more of a nuisance at times, and not necessarily in the playful way that Snoopy classically flirts with.
The animation in the film was unique. Trying to maintain that comic strip feel gave the animators the chance to experiment. It made for some memorable shots, such as Charlie Brown’s eyes peeking through under the snow as he falls from a tree, Snoopy’s physical comedy while coaching Charlie in baseball and Lucy leaving heart imprints in the snow after seeing Linus playing hockey. Each little interaction of the characters provides a quirky animation sequence that is pretty unique to this film.
I was never a big fan of the Peanuts series. But I still enjoyed this movie. The animation was fun and unique, the plot was innocently cute and the characters and quirks were all consistent and humorous. I know that it’s probably not exactly what college kids would like to spend their money on when they go to the theater, but I think it’s worth checking out if you’re looking for a genuinely enjoyable and charming watch.