Good Grief! It's been fifty years since the first time Charles Schulz' Peanuts characters were brought to life in A Charlie Brown Christmas!
Because my appearance on this planet occurred a few years later than that Christmas special, the little Round-headed kid, his faithful but flighty dog and all the rest of the gang have been a part of my holiday season since the beginning.
There are myriad movies that appeal to me, ranging from Mad Max to The Martian, from Star Wars to Something About Mary, from Lilo and Stitch to Life of Brian.
I have just a small handful of sacred cows, and Charlie Brown is one of them. You see, I AM Charlie Brown. Much of my existence has been controlled by my insecurities and lack of self-esteem. I tried to excel at everything, but typically succeeded at little. My younger sister was even a little like Sally: Motivated and strong of character.
So, when my youngest daughter sent me a link to a trailer for this new Charlie Brown movie, I was immediately hooked. I waited and waited, even wondered if it had been a figment of my imagination, but eventually, there it was.
Having seen The Martian and Bridge of Spies in recent weeks, seeing a light-hearted movie was beneficial on several points. First of all, I wasn't the youngest audience-member. Secondly, it took just a few moments before some very familiar music was playing in the soundtrack, taking me back to my childhood. Thirdly, believe it or not, this film was a perfect hybrid of nostalgia and ground-breaking goodness.
This is a Charlie Brown for the ages. If you got giddy and excited when you saw the word "Special" spinning around on your TV screen, this film is for you. (Even if (like me) you lived in a region that never sold Dolly Madison snack cakes.)
It will seem familiar while being fresh. If you met the above criteria, and now have children or grandchildren, this is a safe and fun way to bond with them. This is going to be a delight for the kids while being laugh-out-loud funny for the adults. (And not in that "We can sneak this double-entendre past the censors" way, either.)
It's a perfect balance of Charlie Brown's bad luck and Snoopy's never-ending quest to down the Red Baron. It's got all the familiar faces (and dance-styles,) and even brings the "Cute Little Red-Haired Girl" to life.
On the film's release date, I read a newspaper review that gave The Peanuts Movie two and a half stars, suggesting that there was no real reason for this film to have been made.
I disagree. Aside from the obvious reason (revenue,) I posit that there is no real reason for it to not have been made. This movie is Charles Schulz' legacy. Two-thirds of the screenwriters are his direct descendants (Craig (son) and Bryan (grandson)) and this story almost seems like a love letter to "Sparky," a man who created so many lovable and accessible characters.
The reason I held back on the star-rating is because of a few minor issues. One, the film opens with a short "Scrat-tastrophe" depicting the Ice Age character Scrat, proving that our solar system is not a product of Intelligent Design, but rather the shenanigans of a nut-crazy mammal. (I actually was afraid I was in the wrong theatre for a moment.) Two, somehow Peppermint Patty, Marcie and Franklin have transferred to the same school as Charlie Brown and his friends, eliminating that cross-town rivalry. Three, there are two moments in the film where there's a slight "stutter" in the display, like the 3D-rendered computer graphics processed a little slowly. It made a distraction for a guy who looks for things like that, but I assure you, most people will probably not even notice it.
On October 30, I watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with my four-year-old grandson, just as I had so many years ago with his mom and aunties when they were young. The boy was glued to the television. Needless to say, I'm taking him to see this movie, too.
Ultimately, take your kids, take your grandkids and great-grandkids. Take your honey, or your friends, or your service animal, or just take yourself. Treat yourself to a fun-filled romp through the trials, travails and triumphs of childhood.
You won't be disappointed.