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article imageReview: ‘The Peanuts Movie’ is the big screen reunion fans hoped for Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Nov 7, 2015 in Entertainment
“What once was old is new again.” This phrase can be applied to a number of trends in various industries of pop culture as former favourites are repurposed, rebooted and reimagined.
“What once was old is new again.” This phrase can be applied to a number of trends in various industries of pop culture as former favourites are repurposed, rebooted and reimagined. In film, it’s often meant taking characters and franchises from the creators’ childhood and presenting them to a contemporary audience. This has occurred countless times over the years with mixed results. The latest creation to get a makeover is Charles M. Schulz’s beloved group in The Peanuts Movie.
Charlie Brown is popular amongst his friends, but they’ve also come to expect that the yellow-shirt-wearing klutz will inevitably botch things up one way or another. Nonetheless, his best friend and faithful dog, Snoopy, is always in his corner silently offering his everlasting support and encouragement. However Charlie’s latest venture may be his most difficult as he has a crush on the new Little Red-Haired Girl in his class and he needs to muster up the courage to speak to her if she’s ever going to notice him. But his shyness compels him to seek less direct routes to gaining her attention, including a dance contest and an especially demanding book report.
Nonetheless, from a fan’s perspective the filmmakers’ loyalty to the source material is appreciated and thus watching the gang’s trip to the big screen didn’t result in a single cringe-worthy moment — probably one of the perks of having Schulz’s son and grandson on the writing team. The storyline is split between Charlie’s pursuit of The Little Red-Haired Girl and Snoopy’s quest to defeat his arch-nemesis, The Red Baron. While the former is the main narrative, the latter does dominate the final act as the dog and his house-plane race through the skies to rescue his love, Fifi, from the Germans. In between, the movie manages to squeeze in everything beloved from the characters’ amusing dance moves to Woodstock’s frustrating chirp to Peppermint Patty’s terrible advice to the unintelligible adults.
While there’s nothing wrong with this picture, it doesn’t entirely succeed in either of the two endeavours generally assumed by these types of movies: to appease fans of the original while adding something fresh to the universe and/or attract a new generation of admirers by introducing them to the characters. Viewers familiar with the original comics and cartoons will not find anything new in this feature, except the formerly silent Little Red-Haired Girl is finally given a voice. The familiarity is comfortable as the characters all behave as expected (translation: they didn’t ruin them) from Lucy’s know-it-all attitude (though her voice isn’t quite right) to Linus’ quiet reassurance to Sally’s affection for her “sweet baboo”; though the storyline’s similarity to those already told in earlier renderings is somewhat disappointing. On the other hand, while the filmmakers’ assumption of the audience’s knowledge will be welcomed by fans, their decision not to include any form of a preamble may alienate the uninitiated.
Hopefully a younger generation of moviegoers who may have only seen the briefer holiday specials will find 90 minutes of the Peanuts gang’s quirks and comedy as entertaining as the long-time admirers of Schulz’s work.
Director: Steve Martino
Starring: Noah Schnapp, Bill Melendez and Hadley Belle Miller
More about The Peanuts Movie, Charles M Schulz, charlie brown, Snoopy, Animated
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