Sometimes, the current state of Hollywood leaves me depressed. We’re plagued by reboots, sequels, and other non-original ideas that constantly seem to stink up the creative universe with each release, one right after the other. From recent financial disaster Jem and the Holograms, to even the largely (financially) successful Transformers films, Hollywood’s glowing, promising star seems to dwindle faster and faster. But once in a while, there is a cinematic adaptation of a beloved property that gets it right. One that is a nice reminder that movie versions can be done correctly. Specifically today, I am talking about The Peanuts Movie, starring the amazing characters created by the immortal Charles M. Schulz.
The Peanuts Movie starts like many Charlie Brown adventures do. We see the kids that inhabit his world, like Linus, Lucy, Schroeder and other iconic heroes of nostalgia. Snoopy, Charlie’s loyal dog, is there of course, along with the lovable yellow bird himself, Woodstock. Everything seems familiar, as it should be, as we are led into the central plot of our film: the arrival of the famous Little Redhead Girl, the one Charlie develops a crush on very quickly. This drives our hairless hero to prove himself “A Winner,” as Lucy calls it, and Charlie will stop at nothing to get his new neighbor to notice him. At the same time, Snoopy has his own adventures, via a story he is writing about going against his imaginary archenemy, The Red Baron.
From the first frame till the very end, The Peanuts Movie stands among its competitors as something truly visually unique, while at the same time very familiar. It takes a little to get used to the lovable Peanuts gang being rendered in CGi, but after the first 5 minutes, it can feel as if you’re sitting on your couch, watching one of the classic TV specials again. Though the material in the script is really nothing innovative or new, that is nothing to put into the flaw category when it comes to this movie. In fact, if there ever was a movie that embodied the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” this would be it.
And in keeping with that theme, The Peanuts Movie also continues in the tradition of casting unknowns in the roles of our leads. And incase you’re curious, yes, these kids are incredible. The easy stand out is Noah Schnapp as Charlie, who embodies the humble nature of the iconic kid perfectly. Alex Garfin is also exceptional as Linus, who personally was always my favorite Peanut out of the bunch, making the transition from original Linus (Chris Shea), to his modern take completely seamless. Similar remarks can be said for the rest of the cast, but especially Hadley Belle Miller’s Lucy, who’s performance matches the sass and wit of her predecessor flawlessly.
And don’t worry, Snoopy and Woodstock sound exactly as they always have. No really, they do. Why? Well the creative team behind the movie used all the audio they could find of their original voice actor (Peanuts TV producer Bill Melendez) and edited it together to create the sound of the immortal lovable sidekicks.
Speaking of which, if there was to be any “problem” with this nearly flawless movie, it would have to involve Snoopy. Though many would argue that the Red Baron plot line is a very important aspect to Snoopy’s charm as a character, the way in which the filmmakers tried to tie that in seemed a bit forced. That isn’t to say the scenes weren’t enjoyable–because they were–but this side plot seemed to take time away from the main story rather than enriching the film as a whole. In fact, this material might have been better suited for a short to play before future Peanuts films, which I certainly hope gets the green light.
At the end of the day, the team over at Blue Sky should be proud beyond words at the work they accomplished with this movie. It brought back the kind of heart warming, cuddly emotions that not too many kids films have these days. There wasn’t any bathroom humor, nor a lack of intelligence at any moment, adding to the timeless quality that has made Peanuts a franchise that has been beloved by generations, and will obviously continue to do so.