Monday, November 9, 2015

[Review] The Peanuts Movie

Considering the beloved reputation of the Peanuts comic strip and its annual classic holiday TV specials A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown there was understandable skepticism when word broke that a movie was heading to the big screen with a different animation style. Thankfully, The Peanuts Movie is undeniably sweet and very loyal to its source material, as Charles Schulz's own son and grandson helped write and produce it.

It begins with the gang (Linus, Lucy, Patty, Pigpen etc...) waking up to a fresh coat of snow and the prospect of a new neighbor moving in, who happens to be "the little red-haired girl". Meanwhile, the ever-so introspective, self-deprecating yet hopeful Charlie Brown is being Charlie Brown. The next day at school, the new girl is introduced and Charlie Brown immediately blushes the moment she walks into the classroom. What subsequently unfolds is an old-fashioned tale of a childhood crush in the Charlie Brown-iest way possible.

All of the characters are kept exactly the same here (even the voices sound pretty spot-on), and there's plenty of the phrases and sight gags we've come to know. People will be glad to learn that the film successfully and lovingly encompasses the spirit of Charlie Brown and Snoopy. The updated animation adds some texture and dimension, but it holds dear the lines, shapes, and details of the original character designs and settings. Sure, the film would've been just fine in its two-dimensional form, but the important part is that the animation doesn't distract from what's going on. The plot is incredibly light, but almost comfortingly so. In a climate where Hollywood films often end up convoluted and overlong, The Peanuts Movie is refreshingly simple and brisk but just as meaningful.

Charlie Brown's character is as endearing as ever. He's a dreamer and a ponderer, dedicated and determined, and he never gives up on attempting to rise to the occasion (no matter how major or minor it is in the grand scheme) even after all his frequent failures and inadequacies. Charlie Brown isn't just an inspiration to us all, but he might actually be within ourselves.


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