By Nico Beland
Movie Review: B (3 stars)
20TH CENTURY FOX
Truth be told, when I first saw the trailer for Blue Sky Studios’ Peanuts movie adaptation, I honestly thought it was going to blow hard, I just rolled my eyes and thought “Well, I’ll go ahead and put this on Charlie Brown’s list of failures!” I kept thinking about how they would be able to pull this off in cinematic movie form because the original Peanuts cartoons created by Charles Schulz were very basic and simple cartoons and specials but they had a unique charm to keep children and parents entertained, and they were decent quiet alternatives to the loud and energetic children’s programming we’re so used to today (I’m talking about you Teen Titans Go! But I digress).
After several adaptations of other animated shows that tanked hard like the live-action Scooby-Doo movies, The Flintstones movie, and Alvin and the Chipmunks and some surprise hits like the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, George of the Jungle, and more recently, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, I was split on what the finished product might be like, could it be a strong adaptation that succeeds in being an adaptation of the cartoon but also an entertaining movie or would it just be another corporate sellout like Garfield, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and The Smurfs (PS I was also concerned about Blue Sky Studios making the movie because none of their movies are as great as the animated films released by Pixar or DreamWorks).
But to my surprise, the film was surprisingly pretty engaging, especially for something as simple as the Peanuts, the CGI that mimics the style of the original cartoons is very clever and executed well, the story is basic but entertaining, it doesn’t rely on pop-culture references like a lot of other animated films, the humor is decent, and it’s a sweet love letter to the classic Charlie Brown characters from the past.
Charlie Brown has always had the worst of luck, from simple games of football, dancing, and even flying a kite. Every time he shows up to play with the other Peanuts kids, it always results in unintentional slapstick and humiliation.
Fortunately for him, he does have one friend by his side, his pet beagle, Snoopy who is always there to support him whenever something doesn’t go his way. Not to mention he’s a really good dancer.
That all changes when a new girl moves into the neighborhood, right next door to Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown starts developing a crush on the new girl and wants to prove he’s a winner, after a therapy session with his classmate, Lucy.
So from attempting to win the school talent show and showing off some wicked dance moves at the school dance to reading the greatest book ever written for his book report with the new girl, Charlie Brown is determined to go from underdog to winner and win the heart of the new girl and prove to everyone that he’s more than just a clumsy Blockhead…Meanwhile Snoopy battles a plane…Yeah!
Overall, The Peanuts Movie is a solid adaptation of the beloved cartoons, from its simple animation and characters to basic humor and completely full of heart. It succeeds in being a CG film adaptation of the cartoons while still being its own creation, which is much better than a movie that focuses entirely on staying true to the source material or a movie that’s not even close to being an adaptation, new things have to be added to an adaptation, if there isn’t then what’s the point of watching it, just go back to the source material, gladly The Peanuts Movie isn’t like that.
The characters still represent the same Peanuts characters we grew up with, Charlie Brown being the unlucky loser, Lucy is still the bossy girl, Linus still has his blanket, Sally is still a nutcase (No pun intended!), Pigpen still smells, Peppermint Patty is still the lazy girl, Marcie is still the smart girl, and so on. Not to mention the adults still have the “Wa-Wa-Wah!” sound whenever they talk which is a sweet relief, because if an adult said one word of English in the entire movie, I’d be out of the theater faster than you could say “Good Grief!”.
My only issue with the movie is that Snoopy’s side-story fantasy can get unfocused and distracting at times, but don’t worry it’s not nearly as distracting as the daydreams and fantasies from Doug’s 1st Movie. For the most part this is only a minor issue and it doesn’t derail the story too much.
If you’re a fan of the classic Peanuts cartoons, young and old, you won’t be disappointed by The Peanuts Movie. It has just as much humor and heart as the original cartoons and specials, and it’s a great movie for parents who grew up with the Peanuts to take their young ones to.
So far, this is probably the best animated movie released by Blue Sky Studios, better than Ice Age, better than Rio, and better than Horton Hears a Who. I hope the studio learns from what worked in this movie and put just as much effort in their next movie, wait, their next movie is Ice Age 5: Collision Course…Good Grief.