The Peanuts Movie
2015, G, 89 min. Directed by Steve Martino. Voices by Noah Schnapp, Hadley Belle Miller, Mariel Sheets, Alex Garfin, Francesca Angelucci Capaldi, Venus Omega Schultheis, Rebecca Bloom, Marleik “Mar Mar” Walker, Noah Johnston, Madisyn Shipman, Anastasia Bredikhina, Micah Revelli, A.J. Tecce, William “Alex” Wunsch, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Kristin Chenoweth, Bill Melendez.
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., Nov. 6, 2015
Happiness is a warm feature-length animated cartoon called The Peanuts Movie, a loving tribute to the beloved comic strip that graced the funny pages for half a century, continuing in reruns today. For those who faithfully read the syndicated strip each day (it ran in over 2,600 newspapers at its peak), the movie will comfort like a blue security blanket, bringing back wonderful memories of that lovable loser, Charlie Brown, and his gang, including Lucy, Linus, Sally, Peppermint Patty, Marcie, Woodstock, and (of course) Snoopy, the Walter Mitty of beagles. (The only new character here is Fifi, Snoopy’s pink-hued love interest.) The movie’s narrative frequently references familiar elements of the Peanuts folklore: Charlie Brown’s battles with the kite-eating tree, Lucy’s dispersal of bad advice at the five-cent psychiatric stand, Pigpen’s ever-present dust storm, Schroeder’s Beethoven-obsessed piano-playing, and Snoopy’s aerial dogfights against his archrival, the Red Baron, to name a few. The score occasionally features snippets of Vince Guaraldi’s musical compositions from the seminal 1965 television special, now a holiday tradition. But the movie is more than simply a “best of” rehash of old gags and past schticks. Think of it as a family reunion that reacquaints adults with and introduces youngsters to celebrated characters with a timeless quality, though the get-together may last a little longer than usual. As Miss Othmar might say in that distinctive voice, “Wah wah WAH wah WAH WAH wah WAH.”
The comic strip’s late creator Charles M. Schulz would undoubtedly approve of The Peanuts Movie, given his progeny have ensured the film remains true to his artistic and humanist vision. (Schulz’s son and grandson both co-produced the film and contributed to its screenplay.) That said, the movie’s digital animation and 3-D presentation may offend purists, who are entitled to pout (but just for a while). There are technological nods to the kids in the audience, who will have no idea what Snoopy is using to hunt-and-peck his great novel atop his doghouse. (“It was a dark and stormy night.”) Regardless of age, everyone will appreciate the positive message the movie communicates about the importance of character and integrity. Charlie Brown may experience one epic humiliation after another, but he never stops trying. Hope springs eternal for this cockeyed optimist. When the round-headed kid finally speaks to the little red-haired girl of his dreams in The Peanuts Movie, a sigh can be heard 'round the world. It’s true. Sometimes, nice guys finish first.