I’m sure you all are thinking to yourselves, “Good Grief!,” doesn’t this reviewer ever stay on one subject. This year, I’ve jumped from streaming movies to binge shows and now I’ve jumped on the new release bandwagon. My intentions has been to review the thoroughly satisfying Creed, but I have it upon good authority you will be hear from us on that front in short order. Instead, I decided to turn my gaze to another film currently ruling the box office, the 3-D realization of the classic Peanuts characters.
Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) sets out to finally fly his kite successfully, hoping the cold air of winter will numb the vicious Kite-Eating tree. He also practices his pitching against snowmen, though that too proves equally daunting. Nothing ever seems to go right for Charlie Brown. Then one day a Little Red Haired Girl (Francesca Capaldi) moves into town. Charlie’s instantly smitten, but he’s frozen with fear at the thought of talking to her. Charlie talks with his best friend Linus (Alexander Garfin) about how to best impress the Little Red Haired Girl and a series of adventures and mishaps unfold before good ol’ Chuck. Meanwhile, his faithful companion Snoopy (Bill Melendez) finds a typewriter in a dumpster and begins writing the opus of his confrontation with the infamous Red Baron as he fights to rescue his love Fifi (Kristin Chenoweth).
The Peanuts Movie isn’t the first time Charlie Brown and company have been in theaters. It may seem like it considering it has been thirty-five years since the fifth installment graced theaters. This “well-rounded” version visually updates the classic characters while keeping them anchored to the core image crafted by Charles M. Schulz sixty-five years ago. Well, at least on most accounts, but more on that later.
Charlie’s infatuation with the Little Red Haired Girl and his total inability to approach her is a tried-and-true story arc from the strip. Charlie concocts several ideas to impress her, but in predictable fashion his efforts work against him. The major strength in the series of disasters is Charlie Brown’s character. His integrity and the caring he shows towards others is inevitably his downfall time and again. The story doesn’t beat you over the head with these concepts in the moment as do many children’s films, but let’s audiences feel for Chuck’s sad plight.
If Charlie’s calamities don’t hold your children’s attention, Snoopy’s skirmish against the Red Baron is full of high-flying, barrel-rolling fun. All the back and forth between Snoopy and the Baron wore my patience. It often felt it was being used to stretch the movie to the ninety minute mark; a goal missed by two minutes. I liked how the film handled the juxtaposition of Snoopy’s imaginative crusade with his interaction in the real world, but one too many loop de loops left me wishing there was more heft to Charlie’s story.
As a father of a three-year-old I was most excited The Peanuts Movie landed a G rating. It indeed had an appeal for all audiences which is a rarity to find in cinemas nowadays. It’s a stark contrast to the tedious prehistoric misadventures of Ice Age‘s Scrat which, by the way, was saddled onto the beginning of The Peanuts Movie. If you can sit tight through that it of agony, you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised with the film that follows.