Film review – The Peanuts Movie (Steve Martino, 2015)

Before I start, I must confess that I’m a closet Peanuts fan. The comic strip wasn’t something I grew up with and outside the odd Snoopy t-shirt or pencil case, I wasn’t particularly affectionate towards the series.

Sometime during my university years, I discovered the brilliance of the comic strips first, then the films and TV specials. I don’t think it was something I was particularly vocal about, but I was secretly picking up compendiums of the originals strips and box sets of the films that I still watch to this day.

There is something wholly endearing about the characters that has somehow stood the test of time. I’m sure studies could be conducted on why it remains so popular despite most definitely being most definitely of the era it was created in.

I wasn’t overly thrilled when I saw the trailer for this franchise reboot, with the brilliant colours and perfectly rendered faces seemingly betraying the source material. However, I was willing to give it a chance and see what direction the estate was happy for it to go in in 2015, some fifteen years after the death of its creator Charles M. Schulz.

Thankfully, for the most part, the film is a success. The use of modern graphics doesn’t really detract from the fact that it genuinely sits well next to any other instalment. Indeed, the storyline could well be a rehash of an older film, with Charlie Brown spending the entire film trying to win the affections of the Little Red-Haired Girl whilst Snoopy lives in his imaginary world as a fighter pilot in World War II. This is a smart move – taking these familiar characters out of their comfort zone and attempting something unusual can be saved for another time.

When efforts are made to openly appeal to the younger demographics, the film does lose its way somewhat. When Meghan Trainor’s ‘Better When I’m Dancing’ kicked in and the kids started dancing away, the sudden urge to turn off came over me. Heck, even Snoopy! The Musical didn’t stoop this low.

Peanuts aficionados will also berate the fact that Charlie Brown talks to the Little Red-Haired Girl. Then they will be positively irate when she responds and we hear her speak for the first time ever. Or was it just me?

There have been better interpretations of Peanuts in moving pictures and there have been worse, but this should place the characters in the minds of at least a few children for the next few years and, in that sense, the film has achieved what it likely set out to. Just don’t watch it expecting it to wow you.

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