The Peanuts Movie, rated G
Growing up I loved Peanuts – the cartoon strip, television specials, books, etc., created by Charles Schulz, who died in 2000. When I saw that they were making a new film version of our beloved characters (Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, etc.), my feelings were much like my wife Tammy when she first heard that they were making a film version of the first Harry Potter book. They better not screw it up! Well fortunately, as with the Harry Potter films, they do a great job in this film directed by Steve Martino (Ice Age: Continental Drift, Horton Hears a Who!) in a script created in 2006 by Charles M. Schulz’s son and grandson Craig Schulz and Bryan Schulz respectively, and Cornelius Uliano.
This film, with a budget of approximately $100 million, is being released 50 years after A Charlie Brown Christmas, the first Peanuts television special, as well as being released 65 years after the first Peanuts comic strip. It is the fifth Peanuts movie in theatres in 35 years since 1980’s Bon Voyage, Charlies Brown (and Don’t Come Back!!)
The makers of the film, playing to nostalgia, have chosen to give us all of the things we loved about the Peanuts characters, as if time hasn’t changed at all. There are no cell phones or computers. Lucy is giving advice for a nickel at her psychiatrist’s booth and pulling the football out from under Charlie Brown, who can’t fly a kite, or throw a baseball past a batter; the lovable loser who can never catch a break. There is Pig Pen with a cloud of dust all around him and Peppermint Patty falling asleep in class, always accompanied by her assistant Marcie. Snoopy is typing on his manual typewriter on top of his doghouse, accompanied by Woodstock, fighting the Red Baron or showing up as his alter ego Joe Cool. Don’t forget Linus with his blanket and Sally with her crush on “my sweet babboo” (Linus); Schroeder’s love of Beethoven and Lucy’s love of Schroeder and skating on the pond. Even the voices of the characters match perfectly those that you would hear on the classic 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas television special that we watch every year.
The one thing that is new is using computer-generated animation for the first time and 3D. We didn’t see the film in 3D, but it was obvious that there were some scenes created to show off the technology.
There are two storylines that run through the film. The first is when a cute Little Red-Haired Girl moves in across the street from Charlie Brown. He’s immediately captivated by her, but also so nervous that he’s terrified to be in her presence. Second is Snoopy’s battle (his doghouse doubles for his fighter plane) with his arch-nemesis the Red Baron. Growing up, yes, I’ll admit to it, I had all of the Snoopy and the Red Baron singles by the Royal Guardsmen (now that’s not a band you hear of these days). Just as Charlie Brown is smitten by the Little Red-Haired Girl, Snoopy is taken by attractive British fighter pilot Fifi.
I just loved this film, and recommend it for the entire family.
Note: Meghan Trainor recorded the catchy new song Better When I’m Dancing for the film. Watch her perform the song recently on The Tonight Show (and just try to keep your toes from tapping).