ScreenCritics Adam takes a look at 2015’s Peanuts Movie. Does Charlie Brown still have it, or is this one reboot you’ll want to miss?
While we have always picked up new heroes as we’ve grown up, the ones that will be closest to our hearts will be the heroes we got as children. It’s why I still pay attention to modern Pokémon episodes because one day I hope that Ash Ketchum will win the Pokemon League and why Shefki Kuqi is still one of my favorite Sheffield Wednesday players despite there being a lot better players to come to Hillsborough since. So when anyone dares change anything about them to bring it to the modern age, we get angry as they remain treasured memories. So yeah, everyone got angry when The Peanuts Movie was announced, but was it worth all that anger?
Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp, Bridge of Spies) is a loser good so rubbish at everything he can’t even fly a kite. However he falls in love with the new kid simply known as little red haired girl (Francesca Capaldi, Dog with a Blog) and tries to impress her even though he is too nervous to go up and talk to her.
So the thing that will instantly strike you about this film is the style of animation, which we haven’t seen before. If for some reason you can’t scroll up the screen and look at the image my editor will have put in, if he hasn’t just prod him a bit, it’s a sort of 2.5D style which has 3D outlines yet still lives in this weird sort of 2D space. It’s hard to describe. Now it is a shame that no studio will make a big money 2D animation anymore, we really should have gone out and seen Princess and the Frog in cinemas guys, but this is a rather lovely middle ground. The animation is cute to look out and still remains loyal to the original comics and cartoons which were essentially drawn in someone’s notebook.
And because the people writing the film were Charles Schulz’s kids, there is a loyalty to them in the story as well. Like in the original cartoons, no adult is ever seen and while they are heard, it is only through very disappointed trumpets. Like the original. And before we get on with the plot proper, it does feel like an old Peanuts cartoon brought into the future. Charlie Brown tries to do something, other kids say he won’t be able to do it, Charlie Brown tries and fails, kids laugh because they are cruel, which is rather realistic. This doesn’t feel like it’s been butchered by modern creators.
Well most of the time anyway. Sadly, studio executives had to smooth out a lot of the edges that made the Peanuts cartoons from yore so popular. So apart from the beginning, people are rather nice and forgiving of Charlie Brown and the ending is just so perfect for him and the characters. This is irritating because the charm of the originals were that they weren’t afraid to show that childhood wasn’t as perfect as you remembered it and that it was usually a bit crap. So for this film smooth over that and add some of the romanticism to childhood that Peanuts cut from the comics and cartoons is a bit of an insult. Oh and there is a sequence with a studio created pop song, which made me throw things at the screen because it’s exactly what we feared when we heard that they were making a Peanuts film.
It’s probably worth mentioning that the story of Charlie trying to impress this red haired girl isn’t the only plot in this film. There is also a B-Story which involves Snoopy and his writing endeavours. We basically see him act out the book he’s writing, which is a romantic epic which sees Snoopy try to impress this female Snoopy, I’ll call her Snoopyetta, while also hunting down the Red Baron in some plane flights. It’s rather amusing and seeing the film show what Snoopy’s doing in his imagination and then snapping back to reality does get a few laughs.
But in the end, this film isn’t really meant to live up to our expectations, after we’re all we’re grumpy adults who’d dislike it all anyway. It’s for the kids and they will probably enjoy it because it is a well put together film. The script is rather fun and clever and it nips along at a fair pace, meaning that the little ones are unlikely to get bored. Charlie Brown remains a very sympathetic character who’s plights are always engaging and the rest of the cast are funny too. And heck, I’ll appreciate any film that hopes adults will enjoy the film for the kiddish humour rather than just doing innuendo that the children won’t understand.
I do like that I’ve seen The Peanuts Movie simply because it’s probably the most inoffensive film in the world, even with it having the most generic pop song attached to it. There’s plenty of funny moments and while it’s a bit more polished than the originals, which for me is a negative, there is plenty to enjoy for both adults and children. It is no way a must see and it’s probably just one to put on for the kids to keep them quiet, but it isn’t the complete insult that we all feared it could be.