One of my fondest and earliest movie going memories is seeing the movie Race For Your Life Charlie Brown. I’m kind of a purist when it comes to animation, I prefer hand drawn to computer animation. I know it’s not popular to say but I find modern films from the likes of Pixar, Dreamworks, etc. to be technically brilliant, but also cold and too “perfect,” or “clean.” I brought out my pitchfork when I heard that they were going to bastardize yet another treasured thing from my childhood. My faith in movie making has been restored! The Peanuts Movie is everything that I hoped it would be.
From the moment Schroeder plays the classic Fox theme during the opening Fox Logo to the end The Peanuts Movie made me feel like I was transported back in time. To a time when kid movies were made for kids – without guile, snark, cynicism, or annoying celebrity voices. There’s really not much that I can say about this movie, the script and plotting is very thin. Clearly Director Steve Martino only had one mandate – don’t screw this up. He took the safe route and stuck to the formula that’s made the Peanuts successful for over 50 years.
This really isn’t a movie, it’s a collection of all of The Peanuts greatest moments strung together in an 80 minute “narrative.” The creators hit almost everything on the must have checklist. The gang doing the classic Linus and Lucy dance? Check. Lucy’s (Hadley Belle Miller) fear of dog germs? Check. Plenty of Snoopy Vs. The Red Barron? Check. Charlie Brown’s insecurities? Oh, god, quadruple Check. Sage advice from blanket carrying Linus (Alexander Garfin). Check. Wha, wah, wah? Check. A weird reference to The Great Pumpkin? Check! They even do a little Christmastime. Peppermint Patty (Anastasia Bredikhina) sleeping in class? Check. Like a good wrestling match all of the popular Peanuts characters get their time to show off their signature moves.
Ordinarily I would complain at the utter lack of originality in this movie, but faced with the alternative – “modernization,” I’ll take every time. Especially since it’s been 20 or 30 years since the last Charlie Brown movie and I haven’t seen any of the “newer” specials. Even though Christophe Beck is credited for doing the “music” in this film, it’s all classic Vince Guaraldi. It’s almost note for note based on A Charlie Brown Christmas – one of my all time favorite soundtracks.
Even the voice acting felt spot on. Every cast member sounded almost exactly like the classic characters and never once did I feel like I wasn’t listening to the people behind the original voices. My only gripe was the completely unnecessary nature of the 3D. It was poorly implemented and I wish I saw this in 2D and the warmth of the characters more than make up for the computer generated graphics.
Hollywood should take note; this is how you properly modernize older material. Maintain what made it great in the first place and then add a few touches (in this case Computer Animation) here and there but don’t screw up the heart and soul of what we loved in the first place.My only issue with the movie is it may be a little too sweet and innoncent for today’s jaded, modern young’ns. The Peanuts Movie truly is a triumph and proves what I always say – it’s ok to walk into a movie with a bias, if it’s good enough it’ll change your opinion.
Final Grade A