I am a little late to this party, but with time to kill I went to see The Peanuts Movie. It was… nice.
Timid and underachieving Charlie Brown discovers he has a massive crush on the new girl at school, and while his faithful dog Snoopy both helps him and daydreams to himself, Charlie must show everyone he isn’t completely useless.
I never grew up with Charlie Brown and Snoopy, so I feel like I am at a severe disadvantage watching this movie. Sure, I know who they are; they are iconic, but I have no nostalgia for it. This film is designed beautifully to be nothing but a feature length Charlie Brown cartoon; there’s no setup, you are just thrown in.
Created by Blue Sky Studios, I was a little annoyed that this charmingly innocent animated feature is opened with a Scrat short (Scrat from Blue Sky’s Ice Age series) which is noisy, annoying and too long. I don’t want to harp on about this, but while I like Scrat, this “Scrat-pocalypse” was obnoxious.
Onto the main feature, Snoopy and Charlie Brown, or Charlie Brown and Snoopy, or The Snoopy Movie, or The Peanuts Movie, or Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie doesn’t just have the most interpretive title ever in cinema, it is also perhaps the most innocent and non-committal animation ever put to the big screen. I mean that in affection.
The comic strip origins are respected with this film’s charming animation style. Three dimensional animation yet clearly storyboarded to be 2D in presentation; lots of side views of characters, fixed perspectives or simple tracking shots. The characters are 3D models, but they are rarely seen beyond side on or front on perspectives. It has a nice woolly texture with a homely quality.
It must be packed with reference for those people who grew up with the Peanuts characters, and these characters are faithfully maintained; I did not sense any poor interpretations or cheesy “for the big screen” elaborations. Everything felt genuine and small scale.
I think my favourite concept here was how Charlie’s heartthrob is barely identified, since we are watching from his perspective and he is too timid to talk to her! It is a really refreshing point of view, and very funny.
Snoopy in the meantime is daydreaming and writing a story where he battles against the famous Red Baron during World War One’s aerial dogfights, trying to rescue a fictional love from capture. These moments are designed for the younger audiences I imagine; frenetic and action packed, weirdly juxtaposed with Charlie Brown and co’s well spoken mannerisms.
I cannot say I related to it since I never grew up with the characters, it will likely lose all of this generation’s younger audiences with shorter attention spans! But for those people who grew up with them this is surely the genuine, innocent and fluffy animation they hoped it would be. It was charming and simple.
Additional Marshmallows: Probably the first and only film that the BBFC rated as “Contains no material likely to offend or harm”!