Review: The Peanuts Movie Captures The Tone Of The Comic
Title: The Peanuts Movie
Director: Steve Martino
Screenwriter: Bryan Schulz (written by), Charles M. Schulz (comic strip), Craig Schulz (written by), and Cornelius Uliano (written by)
Principal Cast: Noah Schnapp, Bill Melendez, Alexander Garfin, Hadley Belle Miller, Alexander Garfin, and Francesca Capaldi
Summary: Snoopy embarks upon his greatest mission as he and his team take to the skies to pursue their arch-nemesis, while his best pal Charlie Brown begins his own epic quest back home.
I’ve been so worried about The Peanuts Movie since the announcement. There are few things left in the world that haven’t been aped for nostalgia or remade to the point that both old and new fans hate it. The Peanuts comics have been part of the popular culture for so long that everyone knows about them on some level even if it’s just watching A Charlie Brown Christmas on television on the holidays. I wasn’t sure if anyone really knew how to grab Peanuts and adapt it for a modern audience without completely ruining what made it great. I have to say that this might have been the movie I went into with the most trepidation this entire year.
The Peanuts Movie absolutely manages to capture the tone of the original comic while playing as a “greatest hits” of the most well known stories.
The Peanuts Movie doesn’t waste time with an origin story of all of these characters as it assumes that you either know who everyone is or that you can catch on fairly quickly. The movie is titled that this is a Schulz movie but it’s not just Schulz that is speaking through these characters. There are many times that movies like this can come across as insincere and maybe even insulting to the source material, but it’s very obvious that the creators behind The Peanuts Movie have a lot of love for the source material. Much like the equally fantastic The Lego Movie last year, this movie understands both the children and the adults in the audience. It might even have more respect for children than most modern movies. Aside from the Snoopy sections the movie spends large chunks of dialogue and character interactions under the assumption that a child can, and will, sit through movies that aren’t just nonstop roller-coaster rides.
The Snoopy and Woodstock sections are great in the same way that Shaun the Sheep was earlier this year. Snoopy and Woodstock don’t have any spoken dialogue so all of the story beats come from action and emotion in the characters faces. Despite these being basic designs Snoopy and Woodstock have always lent themselves well to this kind of storytelling. I also found these sections hilarious because they are being told by Snoopy writing a book typing on a typewriter like he always does in Peanuts comics despite the fact that almost no one under the age of twenty five will know what a typewriter is. There aren’t any cynical moments in the movie that show that time had moved forward in any meaningful way in this world.
The animation and art style, while really a 3D version of the comics, doesn’t quite hold up the entire time. There were a few moments that got a little wonky for me but they were few and far between. The 3D is fine in the sense that they aren’t obnoxious with it, constantly throwing things in the audience’s faces, and it didn’t give me a migraine which is about the best I can hope for when it comes to 3D. There are a few times that the movie will switch from the classic music to something much more modern, and those moments feel a little strange, but they are so few and far between that it doesn’t really matter. The movie also makes sure that it’s heartbreaking in a way that Charlie Brown stories often are but heartwarming and surprisingly positive at the end. I was expecting it to be 93 minutes of having my heart torn out when, in reality, it was more like 40 minutes of getting my heart torn out and another 53 of putting it back together.
The Peanuts Movie plays like a long form love letter to the formative cartoons and comics of the last sixty years. This is a movie that has been made with the care and attention to detail that comes from a creative team that truly respects the source material. I’m hoping that The Peanut Movie will open this world to a new generation of children as the comics and early movies and television shows have done for previous generations. Whether you are a diehard fan or someone who casually knows about this series, The Peanuts Movie will appeal to everyone.