Studios taking an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to an old franchise in the age of reboots is an ironically refreshing approach that I’m glad The Peanuts Movie indulges.
The dry, observational humor of Charles M. Scultz’s classic comic strip feels downright archaic compared to the faster pacing and reference-laden humor of a Pixar or Dreamworks movie on paper, but by sticking to their guns and just making a good movie, The Peanuts Movie retains the small-world charm and sweetness that’s helped the brand live on through holiday re-runs and Broadway deconstructions for the last 65 years and doubles as a great introduction for kids and a faithful, for better and for worse, trip down memory lane for their parents.
Brought to life with computer animation helping to bring new depth to Schultz’s trademark wiggle pen style, The Peanuts Movie follows Charlie Brown as he embarks on a quest to get the attention of the Red-Hared Girl, a new classmate who doesn’t know about his tendency towards failure. From top to bottom, nothing but total reverence has been shown to the original strip/cartoons. Every Peanut, from Linus and Lucy, to Schroder, Franklin, Peppermint Patty, Pig-Pen, Violet, and many more all get their moment in the sun. The film is also steadfast in the era it takes place in, with typewriters and rotary phones still kicking about. The parallel between the Charlie Brown love story and Snoopy constantly adding chapters to a love story involving his World War 1 Flying Ace was the most practical use of filler screen time I’ve seen in a kids movie in a while.
Detractors will call this a movie that’s jogging in place, and while it’s definitely not pushing the envelope in a big way, it’s just nice to have The Peanuts back.