… Or Snoopy and Charlie Brown: the Peanuts Movie… *grumble* *grumble*
Yo, this be Reuben. As an Englishman, maybe I should have used it’s English name, Snoopy and Charlie Brown: the Peanuts Movie, but I didn’t, because that’s a stupid name.
Now, BlueSky, the guys behind Ice Age, Rio and Robots among others, decided they’d make a little bit of profit while also making an ode to the late Charles M. Schulz by creating a film of his beloved series, showing off his lovable characters to the world on a huge scale. Although it’s strange that they’d make Peanuts material without the guy himself, I think the premise of making the film was fine. The movie itself, disappointingly, is also merely “fine”, and it doesn’t do the original comic script the justice it quite deserves.
Even so, it’s a great feel-good flick for the litt’luns, and long-time Peanuts fans will appreciate a lot of the film, as although it gets some things wrong, it gets surprising amounts right, to make a fairly fun albeit inconsistent film. Charlie Brown himself, for one, is rendered about right, and Snoopy is pretty much as likable as he always was. Franklin, Woodstock, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Sally, etc. are all pretty much as I remember them. Lucy, in particular, is just like I remember.
However, although all of the crew are well adapted in the film, their unique characters aren’t always helped too much by an often substandard script. A few predictable lines, average kids’ film tropes and slightly too feel good moments cheapen the whole affair a bit. One of the other main problems the film has attributes to one of those criticisms, in that it doesn’t quite feel like vintage Peanuts because it is often slightly too happy. I mean, I’m fine with a smile or two, let’s not look at me as the biggest grump in the universe, but a big part of why the ol’ Peanuts was so special was because it was a little bit dim and oddly adult-like, even though at the same time they were kids playing around – it was that strange mix of pessimistic and clever lines and childhood innocence that made the original thing so unique. But this film rarely possesses the former, as the smartness of Schulz’s writing wasn’t present, and that aspect was sucked out of the film somewhat.
Another qualm I have with the movie is Snoopy’s crappy side-story. Even though Snoopy does provide that mischievous edge he’s known for, his dream fight with the ‘Red Baron’ was boring and took up too much of the screen-time. I would have rather more was put into Charlie Brown playing baseball and Snoopy taking the mick out of him, rather than having a massive and rubbishy side-story to take away from the rest of the film. It would work much better as a spin-off TV series, me thinks.
The Peanuts Movie’s biggest flaw, however, is its score. Although some of that charm is brought to the mix with some moments of Schroeder’s piano and the token Christmas carol, other than that, there are some very average background music bites and one or two crappy pop songs that not only are totally out of place, but are totally obnoxious, completely opposing Peanuts’ understated tone. Some cringey dance scenes and the like accompany these songs, that are far too in-your-face and tacked on for the sophisticated series.
Look, I love Charlie Brown and the crew. I’m just picking fault at their film because it doesn’t do them justice enough for everyone from my generation to remember Peanuts as this intelligent and quietly amazing thing, rather as a fairly average and forgettable CGI movie.
Even so, I’m never going to say The Peanuts Movie is bad. It’s fun enough, and it gets surprising amounts right, as I mentioned. There are a fair few chuckle worthy jokes, great character-likenesses and a nice [if not quite perfectly] feel-good tone. The story of Charlie Brown trying to talk to ‘The Little Red-Haired Girl’ whom he has a crush on works in that it brings a solid foundation for him to embarrassed, but never dissuaded from his goal. Admittedly, the story is also predictable, but that doesn’t matter at all, because I think the simplicity of it really helps a lot of the film flourish.
Furthermore, the animation is amazing. As in, some of the best in a CGI film. The adaption of Schulz’s art style couldn’t have been done more perfectly, as the 2.5D animation is fittingly stuttery (like the old cartoons) and colourful, with the personality you’d expect.
In conclusion, The Peanuts Movie is a charming adventure with solid characters, fantastic animation and some greatly appreciated nods to the history of the comic strip, but it is a film greatly marred by a crappy score, tedious side-story and inconsistent script-writing. Unfortunately, although it’s quite a fun flick and one with a nice lot of charm, it falls a little flat alongside most of BlueSky’s other productions.
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