So I watched The Peanuts Movie…
I wouldn’t call myself a major fan of Peanuts but I do consider it to be part of my childhood. I grew up reading the comic strip and watching a Christmas special here and there, so I had a vague outline of the characters but nothing concrete. I didn’t even watch the trailer for this movie, I just went in and hoped for the best; and, luckily, I got something very special.
Okay, basic plot: Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) is an average boy with an above-average streak of bad luck. He’s learnt to take this as part of life but it becomes an increasing worry after a new girl moves to his neighbourhood and joins his class. Charlie Brown immediately becomes smitten and sets out – through the course of the year – to impress her by doing more and more daring things. Unfortunately his streak of bad luck can’t be dismissed this easily and follows him through every task he attempts to impress the new girl. With the end of the school year fast approaching, Charlie Brown – with the help of his trusty (and slightly crazy) dog, Snoopy – is running out of time to make an impression and shake his streak.
This is one of those animations that are made almost purely for children. Now, normally, this would earn it a scathing review from me, was it not for its ability to make me feel like a child again. This movie appealed to my nostalgia and tells such a universal story, that even though it’s primarily made for children, it definitely has something for an older audience to relate with. The story of someone trying to be more than what they are in an attempt to impress a potential love-interest is a story that’s literally as old as time. Seeing Charlie Brown struggle through this as a child transported me back to my own childhood and fumbling attempts to impress girls. It’s a story that’s engaging and really full of fun.
This film has a clear sense of identity. It’s all about childhood fun and zeal. This movie perfectly taps into what I liked about cartoons when I was a child – the silliness, the wacky adventures and boundless sense of imagination. There are jokes in this film that are purely aimed at pre-schoolers but they made me laugh because the film is so pure and unashamed of its childlike nature. That being said, there are some intelligent jokes in this movie. One in particular where Charlie Brown says that he can’t go talk to his crush because he doesn’t have the money to pay for a family and mortgage really hit the spot.
I also enjoyed this film’s visual style immensely. It literally felt like the comic strip had come to life. The characters move dynamically and have a 3D feel to them; but there are also characteristic signs of a hand-drawn comic strip. There are those lines around a character that indicate movement or squiggly lines above their head to indicate they’re drowsy. This gave the characters a solid, static feel but also a fluid, free-moving quality which I loved seeing.
The Peanuts Movie is also very well-written and screenwriters, Bryan Schulz, Craig Schulz and Cornelius Uliano do some great work. Craigh Schulz is actually the son of the creator of Peanuts – Charles M. Schulz – and he apparently insisted that he and his son, Bryan, have the final say regarding production. They wanted this film to stay true to their father’s legacy and this comes across quite clearly in the film. It feels like a Peanuts movie and is made in that same spirit of the comic strips and the previous movies. I think they did a wonderful job producing a piece of work that Charles M. Schulz would be proud of.
Overall, The Peanuts Movie is a lot of fun. I can see it not being to everyone’s taste but you need to go in willing to tap into your inner child and remember what it was like being a kid. It’s beautifully animated and the script pays true homage to Schulz’s legacy, definitely worth seeing. 7/10