Review: The Peanuts Movie

The Peanuts Movie
7 10

PLOT: Charlie Brown just can’t get anything right. When he falls for the pretty new neighbor, things seem to get even worse for the awkward little outsider. But with the help of his loyal dog, maybe he will be able to finally get the attention of the pretty red-haired girl and the respect of his friends.

REVIEW: Charlie Brown is back, along with his best pal Snoopy, and they are bigger than ever. Well, mostly bigger. THE PEANUTS MOVIE is an old fashioned children’s animated feature drenched in nostalgia. It is a movie that is so true to what creator Charles M. Schulz brought us that it sometimes feels a bit too familiar. Charlie Brown is still the lovable loser that tends to make a mess of everything. His dog Snoopy, as per usual, pals around with a little yellow bird named Woodstock, and they have their own adventures. The biggest difference this time is the use of 3D, and it utilizes this technology better than most animated films. The youthful exuberance of Charlie and friends comes off the screen in a surprisngly effecive way.

Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) just can’t win. While all his friends take advantage of a celebrated “snow day” - school is closed due to the weather - he decides to try and successfully fly a kite. He doesn’t succeed. Later on when a new neighbor arrives, just like the old television specials and previous incarnations, he develops a huge crush on her. The pretty, and mysterious, red-haired girl is always out of his reach no matter how he tries to impress her. Meanwhile, Charlie’s dog Snoopy once again faces his mortal enemy, the infamous Red Baron. If you have ever watched a Peanuts special, you are probably very aware of Snoopy’s imaginative high-flying battles as he and Woodstock pretend that his doghouse is a fighter plane. The filmmakers certainly don’t offer up anything new in terms of plot, which is a blessing and a curse.

For anybody that was raised on Peanuts, there is something very satisfying in this feature - the first Peanuts film since the death of it’s creator, Charles M. Schulz. We’ve seen all of these stories before, and there is even a nice little mention of the classic holiday specials including It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. The script by Bryan Schulz, Craig Schulz and Cornelius Uliano avoids taking on any modern ideas. The Peanuts gang is not Tweeting about Charlie missing the football which is nice. It also doesn’t become an overblown, unrecognizable version of Peanuts that will anger fans. However, this just over an hour and a half trip down memory lane can feel slightly tedious at times, and perhaps a little long.

Another one of the film’s charms is the use of child actors. Aside from using the original vocal recordings of Bill Melendez for Snoopy and the very talented comedic actress Kristin Chenoweth for Snoopy’s love interest, the rest of the cast are all age appropriate. The young crew adds a level of honesty and heart to the characters they play. Hearing Noah Schnapp as Charlie Brown, or Hadley Belle Miller as Lucy, offers a real sense of kids being kids. The voice actors are so incredibly fitting that it adds to the nostalgia factor greatly. It was also nice to see both Marcie (Rebecca Bloom) and Patty (Anastasia Bredikhina) given a ton to do. I’ve always really enjoyed the two characters quirky relationship.

Charlie Brown has never been all that smooth, and this is nothing new. Even with the best of intentions he just can’t get much right. The self defeating quality of Charlie may annoy some modern audiences, but every so often does he something really terrific. In one sequence involving a talent show, he makes a very hard, and very touching choice to help his younger sister Sally (Mariel Sheets). It is a terrific example for young audiences to learn from. The question remains however, will children raised in a very different world still find something in common with this story? Peanuts has never been particularly funny, and aside from the 3D, there is nothing particularly new here. There is a real sense of pure innocence in this G-rated flick, one that many parents will appreciate but what about their children?

THE PEANUTS MOVIE is a love letter to what Charles M. Schulz created. Director Steve Marino has done a nice job at staying true to the source material. Occasionally it all feels a little too familiar relying heavily on our love of the original source material, but for most fans, this may be a minor complaint. If you are looking for a good family film, this is one that may play better to the parents then to the kids. Still, you have Snoopy and his wacky adventures that will generate some laughs. And there is a nice lesson of acceptance to be learned for those open to it. As a long time fan, I would have appreciated perhaps another story than the recycled one offered here, but it is still nice to see all the old friends back.

Source: JoBlo.com



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