If “lovable loser” were in the dictionary, the Chicago Cubs and Charlie Brown would appear right under it. Charlie Brown, his dog Snoopy, Linus, Lucy, and the rest of the Peanuts squad are in full force. Charlie Brown is still the unluckiest of the unlucky, whether attempting to fly a kite, strike a batter out, or kick that doggone football.
When a new little “Red-Haired Girl” moves across the street from him, Charlie is determined to become a new man in hopes of landing her. With help from the ever-versatile Snoopy, who is fighting is own battle in trying to finally take down the Red Baron, Charlie takes steps in getting her attention. But, his best step may be to just continue being Charlie Brown.
For whatever reason, Charlie Brown and Peanuts as a whole just feels very Thanksgiving-ish to yours truly. If someone asked me for whatever reason to play holiday association with what holiday comes into my mind when seeing Charlie Brown and friends, I’d always say Thanksgiving, despite all of the specials for each holiday. Maybe it is the fact that Peanuts, and The Peanuts Movie, is somewhat like a Thanksgiving gathering with a ton of people. Holiday talk withstanding, the new Peanuts movie is likely to play out as one would expect. Depending on the person, that could be an amazing thing, or a meh thing.
Peanuts is very simplistic and basic from multiple fronts. There’s a notable old-school approach that reflects the effort made by director Steve Martino (Ice Age: Continental Drift, Horton Hears a Who!) and producers to keep The Peanuts Movie in the mold that creator Charles Schultz brought to the comic strip and holiday features. This is seen most clearly in the animation, where less is more with the way characters walk, express emotions facially, and interact with their environment. Think of its CGI as a flipbook filled with sketches. And of course, the Peanuts theme is alive and well, along with other notable series sounds and soft jazz tracks.
On another front, the simplicity of the story doesn’t work as well as the animation and technical/audio production does. While I wasn’t expecting a story like, say, Inside Out or The Lego Movie, I am legitimately surprised at how uninterested—and at some points, bored—I was with the film’s plot, which feels very reliant on nostalgia at times in lieu of anything really entertaining. And, that goes for both of them actually, as Snoopy’s plot and CB’s are loosely integrated with each other without adding to each other, aside from the occasional chapter title that Snoopy uses when writing his book that also doubles for where Charlie is in his efforts. Perhaps I am too critical, but for a runtime just north of 90 minutes, it isn’t a good thing to start wondering how much time is left. Maybe it was the lack of laughs. And maybe I just need some kids to improve the viewing experience.
Voice work is of importance with any animated feature, but for something such as Peanuts, that importance takes on more weight because so many people have the characters’ voices ingrained in their craniums. As such, any shoddy work would certainly be derided by long time fans, especially because the film is banking on nostalgia. Luckily, there isn’t a weak link voice wise among the cast. Seriously, the voice work is stellar. Whether these kids were born sounding exactly like the predecessors who voiced Charlie Brown, Lucy, Sally, and the rest, or coached to sound exactly like them, it really is an impressive achievement for these youngsters to get it exactly right.
Yours truly’s five cents on The Peanuts Movie is that it is good nostalgia for fans featuring excellent production, and a nice, if super safe and sometimes mundane introduction to kids unfamiliar to these characters. A little disappointing, certainly, but not a complete whiff like Chuck on a football kick.
Photo credits go to nydailynews.com, and moviewweb.com.
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Nice man. I’m looking forward to this, albeit with tempered expectations. When it was first announced I felt my heart sink — like, what else is Hollywood going to try and destroy of my childhood? haha. Read a few positive reviews on it and that got me reinvested. These characters are so classic!
To be honest, my take in comparison to most is a little more negative, but I won’t deny it isn’t charming. Just more bored than I thought I would be. Still worth it to check out, and in theaters I’d say.
yeah, I’m going to have to see this too, but i do think the half hour specials are the best way to showcase the Peanuts universe and the stories they entail.
I loved those things! For me at least, though my family used to get the Sunday paper growing up, I was exposed to Peanuts through the 30 minute specials.
That’s a bummer. Excited for this one with the kiddos but now I’m a little worried. Most of the buzz has been pretty positive.
Hey Keith thanks for reading. Admittedly, my take is more negative than the majority here. Most have found things to really like, and while I liked them, I wasn’t as interested as I thought I would be.
I think you’d enjoy though!
Agree. ” …super safe and sometimes mundane…” There’s the condensed version for Rotten Tomatoes.
Maybe they should hire me to write those critic consensus pieces lol! I think you nailed it too. It’s fine. Wasn’t expecting a complex story but I did expect to have my interest held throughout. Really didn’t, unfortunately. Least it was fun to look at.
Awwww…. I loved it.. just made me smile and re-live a happy part of my childhood!! 😀
It was…light and harmless. Unfortunately I didn’t care for it as much as I thought I would :(. Glad you enjoyed though! I’m in the minority, thought it was average.
Even in 3D it is lovingly faithful to the gentle, whimsical spirit of the original cartoons.
I missed it in 3D but I could see how the spirit still carries across!