- Posted by Giaco Furino
- On November 6, 2015
- 0 Comments
- charles shultz, peanuts
Few franchises, cartoon, comic strip, or otherwise, retain the sense of timelessness that Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts maintain. While doing research for my review, I was shocked to learn that A Charlie Brown Christmas aired in 1965. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown aired in 1966. I couldn’t believe it, how could a TV special from 50 years ago still feel fresh, still entertain me as a late ‘80s child? Because through the decades, Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, and the gang exist in an ageless time known as childhood. And The Peanuts Movie continues on in that tradition.
Directed by Steve Martino (Horton Hears a Who), the animated feature follows Charlie Brown as he attempts to win the affections of The Little Red-Haired Girl, who just moved in across the street from Brown. Meanwhile, Snoopy lets his imagination run wild as he writes a story about himself as the WWI flying ace, battling against the Red Baron.
The plot is a string of Peanuts comic strips all put together. Classic gags, classic scenarios, classic lines and catchphrases are all repeated by the characters. I found myself anticipating every outcome, guessing and guessing right. But this movie’s not for me, a guy who grew up reading Peanuts strips and watching the old specials. This movie’s for the kid who won’t put down the iPad, for the kid who, instead of going out to play baseball with friends, sits down to play baseball on his PS4. This movie is a wake-up call to kids everywhere… so if you’ve got little ones, bring them to see this movie.
The Peanuts Movie retains most of its timelessness (there are some new pop songs added into the movie, which really stick out like a sore thumb) because the kids go out and play. There’s not an iPhone, a video game, a candy crush in sight. The Peanuts wouldn’t have time for any of that anyway, they’re too busy playing baseball, ice hockey, learning to dance, building model planes, and doing homework. These should be looked at as admirable traits, and in a world where kids are told to plug in and shut up, it’s nice to see the Peanuts get into a bit of trouble and come out the other end smiling.
Charlie Brown’s story is a story of self-growth. He’s constantly failing, but I find his failure completely admirable. Maybe I’m not remembering correctly, but I find this Charlie Brown to be a bit more “it’ll be okay” than his previous incarnations. Gone is the deep doom and gloom, instead we’re given a Charlie Brown who goes into things knowing he’ll probably fail. And when he does, inevitably, fail, he turns to the camera and gives a wry smile. It’s not the end of the world to mess up. Good god, what a great message!
If I’m going to dig in and nitpick for the parents taking their children to see the movie, I’ll have to mention the plot. There’s really nothing surprising going on, no turn you won’t expect. But like I mentioned above… this movie’s not for you. And besides, there are enough nods to classic Peanuts moments to keep you keen-eyed and entertained throughout. The animation is clever in this movie. Yes, the gang’s in 3D, but it’s kind of flat. And their expressions, and little speed lines, hearts of love, etc. are all animated to look like pencil marks. While a little too colorful for the dour Peanuts I’m used to, it’s not unpleasant to look at.
The Peanuts of my childhood is also the Peanuts of my mom’s childhood. It’s a legacy and it’s as close to sacred as a cartoon about a sad bald kid can get. Start your kids off with this, then move them on to A Charlie Brown Christmas or Great Pumpkin, then unplug the Xbox, bundle them up, and boot them into the snow to go and play. It’s what Charlie and the gang would want them to do.