Published Nov 06, 2015Charles M. Schulz's classic comic strip Peanuts first appeared in newspapers 65 years ago and quickly spawned countless holiday specials, tchotchkes and other useless ephemera, but it's taken over three decades for Charlie Brown and the gang to come back to the big screen. It's doubtful many people were waiting patiently for their return, but director Steve Martino and the rest of the makers of The Peanuts Movie are no doubt hoping you, your children, your parents and maybe even your grandparents will shell out a few bills to see the classic characters in 3D.
Nostalgia is the name of the game with The Peanuts Movie; because of that, the only thing that really feels new here is the animation, which looks to capture the 2D feel of the comic and its original characters while adding some extra layers of visual depth. The rest is pretty par for the course: Charlie Brown (voiced by Noah Schnapp) is a world-class loser living in a small town. But when a new neighbour moves in across the street — the famous and ridiculously titled Little Red-Haired Girl (Francesca Angelucci Capaldi) — he decides to up his game and win her affection through a variety of silly and inane stunts. Somewhere along the line, he manages to get a perfect score on a standardized test and is catapulted to fame throughout his school. But when Chuck realizes it all may have been a mistake, does he have the courage to admit it and risk losing any bit of interest from his grade school crush?
It's all pretty straightforward stuff, meaning that hardcore fans of the strip and young children are probably the only ones who will be even slightly amused by the film's myriad subplots and stale jokes. (One scene tries to gussy it up for adults with a few cracks about Leo Tolstoy and War and Peace, but even that obviously misses the mark.)
Strangely, for a film called The Peanuts Movie, this is really the Charlie Brown and Snoopy show (which explains why it's being billed as Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie in a number of other countries). Long-time favourites like Lucy, Linus, Schroeder and Marcie fade into the background, while other characters like Snoopy — what with his half-baked World War I fighter sub-plot that quickly overstays its welcome — appear far too often.
It's hard not to feel like this is a cash grab for a group of fans that grew up with the strip, and an awkwardly executed one at that.