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Friday, November 6, 2015

Movie Review: #The Peanuts Movie

The Peanuts Movie is a warm Linus blanket, with a Snoopy wrapped inside, ready for his big day.

Review by Matt Cummings

It's been a tough two months at the box office: for every Martian, Bridge of Spies, and Goosebumps, there's been three duds to take each of their places. Thankfully, The Peanuts Movie will not suffer the same fate: it's the best children's film since Paddington and could be the top animated film of 2015.

Set amongst the deep history of the franchise, The Peanuts Movie reintroduces us to Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Schroeder and of course Snoopy, the beagle with a huge imagination and a healthy dislike for his nemesis, The Red Baron. When Charlie Brown gets a new neighbor - the enigmatic Little Red-Haired Girl - he takes steps to win her affection But, bad luck isn't far behind as a series of guffaws and bad timing leave Charlie Brown wondering if he'll ever meet his one true love. Faced with a book report deadline, the end of the school year, and a tree that's taken every one of his kites, Charlie Brown must persevere, while Snoopy tries desperately to defeat The Red Baron before he shoots down his dreams of finding love as well.

The Peanuts Movie is like a warm Linus blanket, with a Snoopy wrapped inside; it hits the mark time and time again, ready to strike a nostalgic cord at command. It was crafted by no less than the Schulz family, whose long-standing hold of the franchise has kept lesser studio projects from being made. In hindsight, that appears to have been a very good decision: the moment that the opening Fox theme features Schroeder playing his piano in the foreground, we know this one is in good hands. Director Steve Martino and Producer Paul Feig (known for his rauchy comedies) understand the history behind The Peanuts and do not stray from it in the slightest. That gives the film a timelessness that's hard to deny: there's no vehicles or city blocks to reveal the decade, no cell phones or Internet to rub the glean off of these characters. This is what we pay to see, and that's exactly what we get.

Going into the film, my big concern was whether audiences would accept what now amounts to bullying against Charlie Brown. Our culture has become so oversensitive to what is a terrible issue, that I worried whether Martino and the Schulz family would be able to succeed. The answer is an emphatic yes: Charlie Brown gets a big boost from The Little Red Haired Girl when she explains to him (and the audience) why he's the perfect character for a generation now obsessed with negativity and dispair. He's steadfast in his determination, a hero to his dog, and a surpise in his humility. Boy, couldn't so many of us stand to learn these lesson.

Peanuts also features some of the best animation of 2015. While films like Inside Out will probably win in February for its life-like portrayals, this world is just as appealing for the way it brings these treasured characters to life. Mixing a combination of stellar 3D depth, Schulz and Martino insist on giving the crew what looks like hand-drawn eyes. But there's a warmth to every frame, even when we're introduced to Snoopy's snow-covered dog house.

Some might ignore the purely amazing visuals and point out the complain at the lack of originality in its story; true, there is a ton of borrowing from the television specials, but it all seems to work, as if we're experiencing these for the first time. AGain, this is what you get when you pay for The Peanuts, and personally I found it comfortable. That could keep the franchise from the making the important transition that it has to make wiith the next film. But its re-introduction to the national consciousness works very well here.

Some children's animation makes you wonder what all the hype is about (see Inside Out); The Peanuts Movie delivers the goods in a way few have or possibly will. Sure, it's amazingly naive and quaint, but in that way, it creates a sense of enduring timelessness, of a period when things seemed simpler and when the actions of a courageous boy weren't second-guessed or ignored. It's one of the best of 2015, and should enjoy a deep run through Christmas.

The Peanuts Movie is rated G and has a runtime of 93 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.


Marlene Detierro November 17, 2015 at 7:22 PM  

While The Peanuts Movie succeeds at being amusing and engaging for all ages, it's perhaps just as important that it also succeeds at being "by Schulz."

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