Friday, November 6, 2015

The Peanuts Movie

I was extremely skeptical of The Peanuts Movie when it was first announced. Could the studio that made the Ice Age and Rio movies really turn the classic Charles M. Schulz comic strip into a worthy CGI movie? Turns out the answer is yes, and The Peanuts Movie has everything you could want from a movie that follows Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, Woodstock, and the rest of the gang.

The Peanuts Movie
Director: Steve Martino
Starring: Noah Schnapp, Bill Melendez, Hadley Belle Miller

When a new girl moves in across the street, Charlie Brown is immediately smitten, and he spends an entire school year devising various ways to impress her. It's a cute representation of young love, the kind where he's instantly head over heels for this girl even though he's never, you know, actually spoken to her before. It hits all the predictable beats — the crippling insecurity, the eventual boost of confidence, etc. — and though the story is incredibly simple, it's also the kind of wholesome, old-school storytelling that teaches basic lessons about honesty and decency that Schulz himself would surely have appreciated.

As to be expected, though, Snoopy is the real star here, and I laughed out loud several times at his ridiculous antics. He's also the character at the center of the movie's most bombastic action sequences. He rescues a typewriter from a dumpster early on and spends the movie writing his own movie within the movie that stars (who else) himself as the World War I flying ace, battling the infamous Red Baron and trying to save the love of his life, a female poodle pilot named Fifi. 

The boiled-down storytelling clearly aims at a much younger crowd than, say, a typical Pixar film, but that doesn't make it any less effective. The movie also looks downright terrific, with the visual effects team perfectly capturing every detail of these recognizable characters and seamlessly translating them to CG without missing a step. There are even a handful of callbacks and references to the animated TV specials that have become annual viewing for so many families. 

The Peanuts Movie doesn't break any new ground, but its amusing characters and quick pacing should satisfy younger viewers while older ones should be please with just how familiar everything looks, even in an updated format like 3D. Thankfully, the filmmakers didn't pull the metaphorical football out from under us on this one. (Pro tip: Stick around during the credits to see that gag brought to life.)

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