A reboot that actually works.
When the teaser trailer for the new Peanuts movie debuted about a year ago, I was surprised by how good it looked. I wasn’t even aware at the time that there was a new movie in production. The computer animation looked good, but more than anything else I was taken aback by the voices. The characters sounded very similar to the original Peanuts movies and, in the case of Snoopy and Woodstock, it was actually the voice of Bill Melendez using archival recordings. This authenticity boded well for the film as a whole.
So how is The Peanuts Movie? For both fans of the characters and new viewers alike, the film is a success. Splitting time between Charlie Brown’s (Noah Schnapp) attempts to talk to the Little Red Haired Girl (Francesca Angelucci Capaldi), and fantasy sequences featuring Snoopy trying to rescue the beautiful Fifi (Kristin Chenoweth) from the Red Baron, The Peanuts Movie hits just about all of the main points that Peanuts fans love. Snoopy’s extended beagle family even shows up near the end of the film.
One of the things the film does best is tie itself back to Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip, as well as Schulz’s drawing style. Several times throughout the film there are actual panels from the strip that appear on screen. This film definitely benefits from the fact that Schulz’s family maintained control of the story and production. Schulz’s son Craig and grandson Bryan co-wrote the film with Cornelius Uliano, along with sharing producer credits with Paul Feig and Michael J. Travers. The control the family was able to maintain allows the film to stay true to the Peanuts characters, and also keeps outside elements from coming in and putting product placement or uninspired “pop” music throughout. The Schulz family has managed, along with Uliano and director Steve Martino, to make a film that is both new and old at the same time.
The Peanuts Movie walks a fine line between being current and appealing to the millions of devoted fans who have loved the characters for years. The film does a good job of presenting the characters in such a way that new fans will immediately be able to laugh along with the gang, while giving enough winks and nods to the past to keep the true believers happy. I have been a fan of Peanuts as far back as I can remember and it checks virtually every box I would want it to.
If I have one main complaint with the movie it would be with the fleshing out of the Charlie Brown portion of the film. Part of it might be the fault of the double-storyline in general, but the Snoopy fantasy segments seemed to have more punch at times than the main plot. This also might be due to the fact that Snoopy is probably a little easier to write, because who doesn’t like Snoopy? I just wish that a little more time had been spent on fleshing out good ol’ Charlie Brown and the rest of Peanuts gang. I doubt that anyone under the age of twelve will notice this though, so it might be just a little nit-picky on my part.
All in all The Peanuts Movie will satisfy long-time and new fans alike, and has set up a nice universe in which more Peanuts movies can exist. Not all reboots or remakes are as successful as The Peanuts Movie, and it just goes to show that when people who actually care about the characters in a film have a hand in making it, things tend to go a little more smoothly. The Schulz family obviously wants the Peanuts legacy to continue to be a positive one, and that mentality is shared by fans all over the world. I for one think they have done an excellent job with this one, and I am pretty sure that my ten-year old self would feel the same way. And that is quite a feat. I just hope that if they make another one in the near future, that we get to see more of Spike and Olaf. What Peanuts fan doesn’t want that?
Until next time…