‘The Peanuts Movie’ Review: Charles Schulz Would Be Very Proud
It’s been a long time since Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, and the rest of the Peanuts gang ruled on the TV and movie screens, and in this age full of bad Disney Channel kid-coms, smart-alecky “geared for kids” humor on Nickelodeon, and the fart jokes and toilet humor shoved down our throats by feature animation studios that aren’t Pixar and Disney, is there anymore room for the Peanuts gang? The answer is a proud yes. I’m happy to say that The Peanuts Movie is an absolute love-letter to Charles M. Schulz and his beloved Peanuts comic strip, which lasted for over 50 years between 1950 and 2000.
The film begins with a snow day, school is cancelled that day, and we see the whole gang with all their personalities from the strip intact. Charlie Brown, played by child actor Noah Schnapp (who played the young son in Steven Spielberg’s recent Bridge of Spies), is on a mission to get the attention of her instant crush, the Little Red Haired Girl, while on a side plot – Snoopy is on a mission as the World War I Flying Ace to defeat the Red Baron and save her damsel in distress, Fifi (played by Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth). The latter lowers the bar a little, but I had to admit, they fit the 3D in the film. However, when I saw the ending scene with Charlie Brown and the Little Red Haired Girl finally meeting for the first time, and the latter telling the former she likes him for who she is, I was a 24-year-old man crying his eyes out, and I never cry during movies.
As Charlie Brown, Schnapp sounds exactly like Peter Robbins did in the 1965 special A Charlie Brown Christmas, as do all the other children playing characters such as Lucy, Linus, Franklin, Peppermint Patty (played by teen actress Venus Schultheis), and Marcie. Through the magic of archival recordings, Snoopy’s role is reprised by the late animator Bill Melendez, who produced the animated Peanuts specials throughout the 1960’s-2000’s, The Little Red Haired Girl is played by Francis Capaldi, who also stars in Disney Channel’s atrocious sitcom Dog with a Blog. She’s proved to be a pretty good actress too. The Peanuts Movie is not like other movies based on an established properties, such as the horrendous Alvin and the Chipmunks films or the even worse Smurfs series (which thankfully is getting an all-animated reboot 2 years from now), this is a faithful, nostalgic tribute to Charles Schulz’s original comic strip, a love-letter to its original creator. And even if some of my fellow critics decided politicize the film (like how Variety‘s Peter Debruge decided to inject race into the movie), it will still be a movie that both kids and adults can enjoy this November.
Final Grade: A