By: Andrew Haas
When it was first announced that Blue Sky Studios was developing a CGI Peanuts movie, most people reacted with dread. The comic strips by Charles M. Schulz have been beloved for generations and Hollywood has not had a good track record with adapting old cartoons. When the trailers came out and showcased the film’s style, the was a bit more optimism. I went in expecting this film to be the same old material mixed with new pretty animation. And it was, but boy did it feel good!
The film is about Charlie Brown,voiced by Noah Schnapp, a down-on-his-luck boy who just wants to show he’s not a failure. When a new girl moves into town, Charlie is more determined than ever to show her that he’s a winner. He even gets help from his loyal dog Snoopy, voiced by archives of Bill Melendez, who has his own little adventure.
I could tell there was a lot of commitment to the material just from the animation. It’s done with 3D models, but sticks to the simple style of the 2D cartoons, creating a sort of 2.5D look. The attention to detail goes beyond the limitation of the character designs. It even goes as far as adding inked lines for motion, puffs of smoke, and even thought bubbles. There’s also the scenes with Snoopy as the Flying Ace, which are beautiful and exciting to look at. I saw it in 3D, and was surprised by how effective it was at creating depth like looking at a diorama. Overall, the animation really felt like the comic strip with a beautiful new coat of paint.
The screenplay was done by Schulz’s son and grandson, and they really did their best to honor the man’s work. Instead of trying to reinvent the characters for today’s kids, it simply reintroduces them and the things they do. There’s no modern electronics or trendy fashions. In fact, the most modern things are a couple of songs that play in the background. But even then, they aren’t there for too long, nor do they ruin the moments they’re in. It’s the same timeless characters, traditions, and spirit we’ve grown to love. And the heart of this film comes from Charlie Brown and his perseverance in the face of many, many failures. It tells a nice message that many people can relate to.
However, some may argue that everything’s a little too familiar. I will admit as much as I liked the recreations of old Peanuts gags and situations, there isn’t really much new storywise. Like the makers were too afraid to do anything outside of what’s already been done. While that is the film’s biggest weakness, it did not detract from the experience I had. I just felt so much of the love that went into this film, I did not mind how little originality there was.
The Peanuts Movie is the film equivalent of a greatest hits collection book. Everybody’s seen this stuff before, but it still feels good to read it all again. This is a great, faithful, nostalgic tribute to Schulz iconic series and a good introduction for the new generation with beautiful stylized animation, a warm atmosphere, and lovable characters. I enjoyed this film more than I thought I would, and I’m sure many others will too. The only people I would not recommend this too are those who never liked Peanuts. Because, at the end of the day, it’s still Peanuts.
I’d like to add that the credits include some cute little extra scenes and a collection of old comic panels. Also, before the film starts, there’s an Ice Age short. It’s okay and has a fun use of slapstick. Also… wah wah wah wah wah, wahwahwah wah.