For as long as I can remember I have loved the Peanuts comic strip. Who hasn’t? Charles Schulz’s beloved characters have been cultural mainstays since they were introduced 50 years ago.
The Peanuts Movie has been in development for several years. However, Schulz’s estate refused to allow any adaptation that would depart from the spirit of the original comic strip’s values and morals. In fact, they had denied several scripts before greenlighting this one. The real question is, did they succeed in getting a faithful adaptation to the screen? I believe they did, and it could not possibly have turned out any better.
The movie focuses mostly on Charlie Brown and Snoopy. It follows Charlie Brown’s agonization over the Little Red Haired Girl, and Snoopy’s imagination of his fights with the Red Baron.
The main moral of the movie is that people notice when you do the right thing, are compassionate and never give up. While it may seem a bit clichéd, it is nonetheless true, providing a rare example of traditional values that a lot of recent family movies seem to distancing themselves from, relating instead the more modern values of celebrating differences, such as Home, Inside Out, and The Good Dinosaur.
The Peanuts Movie also manages to incorporate every single running gag from the cartoons and comic strip, even if most of them are just one shot fan service. Schroeder’s love of all things Beethoven, Lucy’s Psychiatric Help stand, the kite eating tree, the football kicking and the teacher who sounds like a trombone all make appearances. There are so many more, you’ll have to watch the movie to catch them all yourself.
The animation is some of the best Blue Sky has done in years, and switching into three dimensions did not ruin the look of the original characters. The colors also match the original strips and cartoons perfectly, and the music provides a pleasant call back to the source as well.
The voice acting is also superb. All the characters sound like their previous selves even though only Snoopy and Woodstock have the same voice actor they originally did.
As with any movie, it does have its faults, but they are only faults that a nitpicky fan like myself would find. The side characters, all of whom are extremely interesting and popular in their own right, didn’t get nearly enough attention.
Schroeder (my personal favorite), Linus, Lucy and Peppermint Patty are particularly underused. But this is minor, and I understand why they used them as sparingly as they did, even if I wanted to see more of Schroeder pulling his piano out from under Lucy. The focus of the movie was on Charlie Brown’s character, and if they had given as much attention to the side characters as many fans would want, then the movie would have pulled the focus away, and turned the movie into purely fan service, instead of the heartwarming tale it is.
While Inside Out will probably win the Best Animated Feature Oscar this year, I believe that The Peanuts Movie will at least be nominated. It is a near perfect family feature. This movie is one you buy on DVD and show your kids for years to come.