The Peanuts Movie online movie review - A new entry for new generations
The daily newspaper comic strip of Charlie Brown and friends (AKA The Peanuts) has been around for decades. Created by Charles M.
Shulz in the 1950s about a bald headed kid doing his best to get by in life like any other average Joe, seemed to stick with its audience. Schulz passed away in 2000, far too long to see his largely popular foundation publicized in this fashion ? full on Hollywood style. It's surprising that this even happened though. When most beloved childhood properties or cartoons become produced by a big budget Hollywood studio, people are less than pleased. The whole idea of taking something from the past is to either bring it to current time or at the very minimum reintroduce it to a new generation as it was when it was originally made from its inception. Schulz did have the classic animated specials for the holidays and even a short-lived TV show, but having it brought to the big screen never felt like it was ever a part of his intentions. Perhaps it never was, but it's safe to say this will not make him roll in his grave.
Taking a look at the credits, it is clear as to why this film is as good as it is. First, Steve Martino, the same director of Dr. Seuss' adaptation Horton Hears a Who! (2008), directs it. Secondly, the descendants of the creator himself, Bryan and Craig Schulz were the writers. From that alone there seems to be a decent amount of people who care about this project. The plot is the classic story for new generations that are not familiar with The Peanuts crew. Charlie Brown and his friends discover a new classmate has come to their town. That new person is no other than Charlie Brown's crush, the little red-haired girl. Meanwhile, Snoopy's having trouble of his own with the red baron constantly fouling up his plans. Anyone who enjoys Snoopy and friends will continue to enjoy how this film takes the things people love about them and runs with it. There are numerous references to other iconic Peanuts moments; the list is long. There's also a lot of new material as well. An example of this is when Charlie Brown ends up becoming the most popular kid in the school and how his life dramatically changes. These different scenarios are important because they put Charlie Brown in new situations probably not even the veterans of the comic have scene.
Also, Snoopy's story arc is delightfully written as the allegory to Charlie Brown's life struggle where the Red Baron is Chuck's annoying bad luck that doesn't cease to leave him alone. The voice actors to this production are well cast and perfectly blend with their animated counter parts. Noah Schnapp as Charlie Brown was perfect, Alexander Garfin as Linus was great, Hadley Belle Miller as Lucy had the best attitude to match, Bill Melendez (if were still alive would've been 99 this year!) voices Snoopy and it's as cute as ever. The list is too long to fully mention but all cast members perform their roles spot on. For writing of various characters they all get a decent amount of screen time too and their own gags. There are times when they do act in ways that seem rather silly but these are children based characters, which makes them gullible so that is acceptable. If there's anything that doesn't make sense to this film is the fact that a cinematographer was needed (Renato Falcão). There have been animated films that have credited cinematography but it's not common. So as to what was filmed physically isn't answered but that doesn't diminish the quality.
The animation is another solid component to this feature. Headed by senior animator Joseph Antonuccio (Rio (2011) and Epic (2013)), almost every scene flows extremely well. There are areas where the animation looks choppy but this was apparently done on purpose to resemble that of the older films. As long as there's a reason. One thing though that stands out is the 3D texturing on this 2D film and that doesn't mean watching it in 3D either. The fact that Charlie Brown's shoes look like real tangible leather and Snoopy's fur is made up of individual follicles is astounding. Then there's the film score by Christophe Beck and soundtrack by various artists. Meghan Trainor's "Better When I'm Dancin'" and Flo Rida's "That's What I Like" both help bring forth the moral of the story about believing in oneself and not giving up. They are both catchy and optimistic songs. Christophe Beck's score is another added bonus. To hear The Peanuts main theme in full updated orchestra sound is truly something. Plus Beck adds in a lot of his signature instrument sounds with organ, drums and even bells. By far though, his most effective motifs are when he brings out the solo piano that reminisce of his Paperman (2012) score and it does tug on the heartstrings. Very effective and heart warming.
Seeing Snoopy, Charlie Brown and his crew for the first time in a long time with updated animation and music are great. The story is a classic and although it has been used before, it is still an original nonetheless. It's new for people unknown to it and a favorite for the fans. Topping that off is the spectacular cast of child actors who helped bring the characters to life and a script with fortified character development.