For the first time in 35 years the Peanuts gang is back on the big screen. The challenge was to introduce this generation of young people to the loveable characters that we older people all grew up with. Much could have gone wrong with the film, but director Steve Martino (Ice Age: Continental Drift, Horton Hears a Who!) make sure it is relatable to today’s youngsters while still being a nostalgic trip down memory lane for older folks.
Both Charlie Brown and Snoopy are undertaking their own quests in The Peanuts Movie. For Charlie Brown he is still the sad sack who cannot ever get a kite to fly. He hopes to change everything about himself when the Little Red Head Girl moves in across the street from him and becomes a classmate. Charlie Brown falls head over heels in love. He quickly tries to erase his past reputation and become a cool kid to impress her. Snoopy, or The Flying Ace, also has his hands full trying to ward off his nemesis, The Red Baron, and rescue the poodle Fifi (Kristen Chenoweth – from television’s Glee) he has fallen for.
Everything you could have hoped for is there. Kites in trees, Pig-Pen and his cloud of dirt, Schroeder and his little red piano, a nickel to get advice from psychiatrist Lucy, Linus and his blanket, Sally being all goo goo over Linus, and of course Snoopy and Woodstock being as cute and funny as all get out. There is not a ton of plot, but just enough to keep you following along.
I was thrilled to see that the simplicity of the hand drawn cartoon was still maintained despite the fact that they used modern 3D computer animation. The characters and their faces/expressions looked exactly as they have for decades. Yes, the film is in 3D and once again other than the parts with Snoopy as a flying ace there is really no reason for it. Another annoying money grab.
An aspect of the film that might be strange for younger viewers is the lack of technology used by the “kids” (because Charlie Brown should in reality be a senior citizen). The phones are old fashioned dial phones and kids play outside on a pond rather than gather in front of a television playing video games. There is not a cell phone to be seen. Quaint or a refusal to keep up with the times? That is to be debated. Does this make The Peanuts Movie really a kids’ movie for adults? I don’t think so in that yes there is plenty of nostalgia to be found, but there is also enough in it that kids today can relate to. A nice mixture of past and present.