I went into Peanuts a little skeptical. I love the comics and the shorts that have come out over the years especially Great Pumpkin and Charlie Brown Christmas Special. The thing I love most is the character of Charlie Brown and how he is thoughtful and even depressed at times. There’s something about that which makes him very relatable and easy to root for.
I guess he is the classic underdog who we all like and a lot of the times he speaks the truth whether it is about materialism at Christmas or the difficulty making friends. I was worried this quality of Peanuts would get lost. I was particularly worried when Blue Sky was the studio involved and when they decided to go the CG route instead of the hand drawn of the shorts. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the trailer so I was nervous walking into the theater.
But I’m telling you they pulled it off. This film is a complete delight. I can’t say enough good things about it.
Let’s talk about the animation first. It feels like a hybrid animation like we got in Paperman or Feast. I saw it in 3D and it looked multi-dimensional but also paper thin, so it had both a 2D and CG look to it. Mostly it felt like layers and bold colors to the characters we know and love.
It’s so pleasant to look at and the character design down to the squiggly lines of the smiles was perfect while still having it’s own new look. The scenes with Snoopy, Woodstock and the Red Baron looked bright and wistful, like right out of a comic strip or book.
They also got the voice work perfectly without any of the celebrity voices that can be distracting in films like Home. These are the voices we know from the original shorts.
The story is very simple. It is basically about how Charlie Brown wants to win the attention of a new red-headed girl but he lacks the confidence he needs to even talk to her. He gets some advice from Lucy and decides he wants to be a winner.
On the way he experiences some really sincere and lovely moments of both triumph and success. They got the tone just right in this movie and I was always hopeful and filled with joy even as Charlie Brown was struggling.
The jokes all worked and the kids in my audience were cracking up (and I was too!). There is absolutely nothing offensive in this film. It is G rated and deserves a G rating. You can take any age of kids and I think they will be entertained even small toddlers I think will like it.
I loved the world of the characters. These are no cell phones or laptops. These are kids that have to go to the library to look something up, go skating on snow days and participate in school talent shows for fun. It all felt so innocent and charming. You can tell they had the influence of producers and screenwriters Craig and Bryan Schulz (Charles Schulz’s son and grandson) involved creating a story that will satisfy new viewers and longtime fans.
They have a few songs from Flo Rida, Meghan Trainor but you also get the classic Vince Guaraldi numbers from Charlie Brown Christmas Special and the Christophe Beck score uses Guaraldi as an influence. Jazz pianist David Benoit helps add to the authentic feel of the score.
Over all, I was completely delighted by this film. I really don’t have anything negative to say. I guess if you are looking for something new and challenging than this isn’t the film for you. We got that in Inside Out, which I still think is the better film, but I really did love this film. They had such a tough task in front of them and congrats Blue Sky! You pulled it off!
Here’s my youtube review.
Overall Grade- A+ Definitely one of best of year.