Adventure Animation

'The Peanuts Movie' Film Review: Don't ever change, Charlie Brown

November 6, 2015Ben MK

Just call him the world's oldest 8-year-old. Of course, we're talking about Charlie Brown, that round-headed kid and icon of the American comic strip. It's been 65 years since cartoonist Charles M. Schulz first introduced readers to the Peanuts gang. Now they're all back, and this time they're on the big screen, ready to meet a whole new generation of moviegoers.

Directed by Steve Martino (Ice Age: Continental Drift), The Peanuts Movie takes the characters we all know and love — Charlie Brown, his sister Sally, Lucy Van Pelt, her brother Linus, Peppermint Patty, Schroeder, Marcie, Pig-Pen, Woodstock, and of course, Snoopy — and gives them a little computer-animated makeover. But never fear, even though this is a Peanuts movie made with state-of-the-art 21st century technology, the film still manages to stay true to that classic Peanuts look, right down to the curly lock of hair atop Charlie Brown's head.

That steadfast dedication to the characters' roots extends to the film's storyline as well, which spans from the dead of winter to the first day of summer vacation, and has Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) trying to win the affections of — who else — the Little Red-Haired Girl (Francesca Capaldi). Even his dog Snoopy (Bill Melendez) gets in on the act, by helping his owner try to overcome his insecurities. And when Snoopy's not doing that, he and Woodstock are busy fantasizing about getting into aerial dog fights with Snoopy's arch nemesis, the infamous WWII pilot known as the Red Baron.

Needless to say, it all feels like something that's been plucked straight out of the funny pages. But what else would you expect when the film's screenwriters include Charles M. Schulz's son, Craig Schulz, and his grandson, Bryan Schulz. Together with Cornelius Uliano, the three of them have crafted a screenplay that pays mindful homage to the cartoon's long and colorful history, thanks in part to the inclusion of such Peanuts staples as the kite-eating tree and, of course, Lucy's penchant for pulling the football out from under Charlie Brown just as he's about to kick it.

More importantly, however, what makes The Peanuts Movie feel so genuine is the fact that it holds true to the tone of the comic strip and the spirit of the characters themselves. From the dialogue (which has the nearly-all-kid cast spouting out familiar phrases like "Good Grief!" and "You Blockhead!") to Charlie Brown himself, who's portrayed as a lovable, insecure loser with an undefeatable sense of optimism, longtime fans of Schulz's work will delight in knowing that this is the same old Peanuts gang they've grown up with. No "hip, new edge" has been added. No radical reinvention has been attempted.

Of course, for those who like seeing properties as long-in-the-tooth as this one reimagined for modern audiences, the film's faithfulness to the source material might be a deal breaker. But for everyone else who just wants to see Charlie Brown and friends brought to the screen with loving care for a whole new generation to enjoy, The Peanuts Movie does exactly that. Yes, you're just as we remember you, Charlie Brown. Don't ever change.

The Peanuts Movie releases November 6th, 2015 from Twentieth Century Fox. The film has an MPAA rating of G. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 33 Mins.

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