It’s easy to assume when movie executives green-lit The Peanuts Movie, they were motivated by a little bit of nostalgia and a whole lotta dollars. After all, Charlie Brown and the rest of the characters created by Charles Schulz have been a huge business for decades, and it makes sense that they would put something together if for no other reason than to keep the characters active in pop culture.
The team behind The Peanuts Movie was very serious about staying true to the legacy of these iconic characters. We see Snoopy on screen as a troubled beagle who not only is trying to write the next great American novel, but is trying to teach his best friend to dance to modern songs (Yes, Snoopy can bust a move). We see Sally Brown beaming with pride as her brother is honored for achieving a perfect score on his standardize test, but we also witness her capitalizing on her brother’s new found celebrity. It’s that mixture of old-school Peanuts cartoon lore with a modern twist that contributes to The Peanuts Movie being a heart-warming, gentle film that will play to audiences young and old. Anyone shocked by the idea that Blue Sky (The company behind The Peanuts Movie) would do a tremendous job adapting the original material must have forgotten how well they handled Horton Hears A Who. Blue Sky certainly adapts material from a position of authenticity and respect.
The story centers on a very familiar set of events: Charlie Brown is still the loveable loser in his group of friends, and he immediately becomes fixated on talking to the new girl on his street, “The Little Red-Haired Girl,” and the story builds from there. Anyone who is a lifelong fan of the Peanuts comic-strip is going to love this movie. Bryan Schulz, Craig Schulz, and Cornelius Uliano created a script that appeals to multiple generations of Peanuts fans. Yes, Snoopy will battle the Red Baron, Sally Brown will profess her love for her Sweet Baboo (Linus), Peppermint Patty, and Marcy will play their familiar roles, and of course Lucy is holding the football out because Charlie Brown is determined to kick that ball just this once! The Peanuts Movie is a trip down memory lane of all those loveable moments that make Peanuts such a beloved comic-strip.
Animation fans will find it interesting that Blue Sky choose to design the Peanuts’ characters via 3D CGI, but then took a very old-school approach and drew the faces on their heads. It was as if the faces were penciled in the same way we have seen them in the comics for years. It was a charming decision that ended up tying in the new animation technology with the authenticity of the long-standing comic strip. This simple choice created the characters we already knew and adored from our childhood.
The Peanuts Movie has endured its fair share of criticism, but maybe some have forgotten what makes The Peanuts the Charles Schulz classic. Forbes contributor Scott Mendelson is a perfect example of a person who didn’t like the film simply because it was a Peanuts film. Have we forgotten what it was like to be a kid? Peanuts is about the everyday life of a loveable loser (Charlie Brown) and his never ending quest to finally be a winner in life. If ever a plot was not only relatable to the general audience and still was authentic to the history of the Peanuts comic strip it’s the story involving “The Little Red-Haired Girl.” The film doesn’t try to be more than it should be, which is a good thing, we’ve suffered enough thanks to The Smurfs 1 and 2. The Peanuts Movie is not about whether some bearded curmudgeon (I think I just described myself) is entertained, it’s about the families and the kids that get inspired. Growing up is one awkward moment after another and Charlie Brown understands. On a personal note, going to see The Peanuts Movie would be the last thing on my mind. However as a father, I will be taking my family to see this film because my son Charlie will be delighted for 88 minutes and that’s about as good as endorsements get.