Making The Peanuts Movie must have been like juggling two enormous boulders. On the one hand is the original source material, which by this point has spanned two generations of eager moviegoers and newspaper readers alike, with enough running gags and charm to fill a palace. On the other sits today’s attitudes and audiences; with more children’s films emphasising edginess, complex themes, and heavy visual spectacle than ever before, it would hardly be surprising if this film flopped dramatically.
Thus, it becomes clear why it is so surprising that the makers of this spectacle have pulled it off. The charm of Schulz’s original masterpiece is present from start to finish with plenty of nods to previous comic scenes. As the story goes, Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) has fallen for the new girl in town and tries every trick in the book to prove that he is not the ‘blockhead’ everyone believes he is – to hilarious effect. The Peanuts’ spin on this timeless story is portrayed intelligently and even causes some thought-provoking moments, while maintaining the classic wry humour of Schulz. In addition, Bill Melendez returns as Snoopy and Woodstock to further recapture the tone and feel of the old specials.
That being said, the true gem of this film is the fantastically fluid animation which cleverly combines the original art work with modern CGI. Character expressions are identical to the source material, delivering the characters with a unique expressiveness. Emotion runs deep throughout the film, something which was not lost on the children in the audience who both laughed and gasped throughout the feature.
However, the film’s heavy reliance on classic jokes and moments seen in the comics feels very forced. While there is an attempt at originality and adaptation for modern audiences, at times the nods made to the source material feel cheap and elsewhere ruin the laughs; every classic joke is used, albeit only once. Nonetheless, it is hard to argue with the result and it is fair to speculate that The Peanuts Movie is a film of which even Schulz would be proud.
Image: isaac618; deviantart.com – creative commons