The Peanuts Movie

The Peanuts Movie photo starrating-3stars.jpgThe Peanuts characters have been animated before, but never quite like this. Charles Schultz’ creations debuted as a comic strip way back in 1950 and ran for 50 years until 2000. It continued on in reruns. During those years Peanuts expanded on its success with television specials. A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown are so iconic, they’re still run today. In addition 4 feature films were released between 1969 and 1980. Each relied on traditional hand-drawn techniques. The comics were pitched at adults but the cartoons had a childlike mentality with a nod to adults who might be watching as well. That’s likewise the sensibility of The Peanuts Movie.

The animation comes courtesy of Blue Sky Studios, the CGI team behind those barely tolerable Ice Age flicks. The artists have done a beautiful job at portraying the gang in this medium. The characters look exactly like you’d expect if they were magically made whole and became 3D designs. There’s a visual depth to these renderings. For example Frieda’s naturally curly red hair and Pig Pen’s dust cloud are so vivid you see distinct strands and dirt particles. It’s the originals you know, only to the second power. Director Steve Martino has had experience turning illustrations into cinematic sagas. He helmed Horton Hears a Who! in 2008. Charles Schulz’s son Craig, his grandson Bryan Schulz and Cornelius Uliano, co-write the screenplay.

Honoring a 2D property and modernizing it as a computer animated feature, in 3D no less, is a difficult balancing act. This nostalgia connects people across generational lines. Peanuts have seemingly been around forever so virtually everyone has at least some connection to these kids. Mess with the memory, you mess with our childhood. Despite the visually modern update, the account is a slavishly faithful manifestation of previous incarnations. That’s good news and bad. The positive is the story doesn’t taint the dignity of Charles Schultz’ beloved work. These are the same cherished icons dealing with identical conundrums. Now the dilemma.

The Peanuts Movie is amiable, but if you’re looking for creativity or imagination, you’re watching the wrong movie. The plot is merely a compendium of replicated gags. Charlie Brown develops a crush on the Little Red-Haired Girl who moves in next door. He wants to make a good first impression. Meanwhile Ace pilot Snoopy writes a novel where he faces his arch nemesis, the Red Baron. He’s supported by Woodstock. The rest of the gang says and does things you remember from past iterations. Lucy dispenses psychiatric advice. Schroeder plays the piano. Marcie calls Peppermint Patty “sir”. Sally pines for her sweet baboo, Linus, who clutches a security blanket, and so forth. They go ice skating and play hockey. There’s a talent show and a dance. Its warm nostalgia and it’s pleasant. The nicest thing I can say is that it honors the source. Yet there’s nothing here you haven’t seen before. Peanuts is a “greatest hits” of recycled vignettes. Its gentle pabulum is guaranteed not to upset the status quo. I was hoping for more.


14 Responses to “The Peanuts Movie”

  1. Couldn’t agree more, Mark. Admired, even enamored with the production (and those voices, amazing work by those kids!). Thought the story was underwhelming, even boring to be honest in spots, which isn’t great for a 90 minute movie.


  2. smilingldsgirl Says:

    I just loved it from start to finish. I loved it kept the melancholy of Charlie Brown and had him learn a simple lesson. I thought it was funny and sweet. I loved the music and the Snoopy and Red Baron scenes were so much fun. I dont think everything has to be innovative to be good. Charlie Brown is great for its core elements and they captured that perfectly. The last thing I want is for them to stray from what Peanuts is.


    • It didn’t have to be innovative, but a little creativity would’ve been nice. Charles Schulz introduced new elements in those TV specials. This could have surprised us with a plot that still stayed true to the heart of the original chacaters.

      It’s sweet so I still gave it 3 stars.


      • smilingldsgirl Says:

        I really was completely charmed by it but glad you liked it for 3 stars


      • smilingldsgirl Says:

        I did think its use of hybrid animation was extremely creative and the Peanuts canon based plot didn’t bother me at all. I hope that more studios keep using that combination of 2D and CG.


  3. Really safe, harmless fun. I actually really enjoyed it but I can’t say this was much of an ‘adventure.’ I’ll prob be giving it the old 6/8


  4. Awww.., I think I loved it a bit more than you did.. I just smiled the whole time at re-living every fun little moment that I remember so well from my childhood.. 🙂


  5. I thought this was cute. I loved that they added all the things we love from the original cartoons. Had fun. 3 1/2 stars


  6. It’s nice to hear how much depth the Peanuts characters receive in 3D form. I was worried they would lose some of their personality in the translation. Also happy to learn that the story doesn’t taint positive memories people have of the series. However I am disappointed that the movie doesn’t cover any new ground. Like you, I was hoping for more.


    • Despite my lack of enthusiam for it, I was surprised Peanuts didn’t earn a nomination for Best Animated Film. Instead the Academy selected the much less seen Boy and the World and When Marnie Was There instead.

      Liked by 1 person

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