What's amazing to see these days is that a new Peanuts movie can be made in the midst of so many other movies being made at the same time. For one thing, the globally conquering success of such franchises as Marvel's The Avengers (or anything even remotely connected to it!), the James bond series, pick any Marvel movie that's come out or DC Comics' Batman trilogy, which now includes the upcoming doom-pic Batman Vs. Superman. There's also been the unusual success of the latest Terminator movie, whether anyone can make sense of it or not, and what should have been the last of the Fast and the Furious movies.
So how can it be that the Peanuts, created by the one and only, late great Charles Schulz, is able to have such a hit movie that it stays at the Number Two spot in the country at the box office? Maybe it's because it IS the Peanuts. Maybe because, with all the constant, big-budget action movies, it's possible that the Peanuts still know how to reach us better than anyone. Let's take a look at the characters we've come to know and love on a daily basis, and maybe we can get a better idea of their success.
Charlie Brown, the moon-headed kid himself, with his striped shirt, is an ideal type of Everyman(or EveryKID in this case), someone who everyone can pull pranks on but he soldiers on as if he has no choice to, because it is who he is, and he's ok with it. He probably asks himself how many more times he's going to try to kick the football away from Lucy, only to have it pulled away from him at the last second, so that he can fly through with the greatest of ease(or something like that), only to fall flat on his back and kill himself. Hey, Charlie's words, not mine!
And that brings us to world's leading expert on crabgrass, Lucy Van Pelt herself, her royal highness of eternal grouchiness and crabgrass attitude, who loves nothing better than plaguing Charlie Brown and simply being the queen of her own little universe. But honestly, isn't it time she changed from her trademark blue dress for something a bit more corporate? Say maybe something in a power suit that real estate agents wear? Lucy very actively gives us the materially obsessed, the eternally superficial money monger who wants nothing to do with holidays except for what she's going to get out of it. But she has to be the way she is, or else someone else in their ranks would have to be, and it wouldn't be the same, so Lucy it must be, then. For better or worse.
Ok, that brings us to her brother, the always loyal, sage-like and always having his personal security blanket on hand, Linus Van Pelt. Funny thing, though, whereas Lucy wears a blue dress, Linus' blanket is blue also. As a matter of fact, it was Linus whose blanket became the prototype for what we now call, literally, the "security blanket". Linus is the polar opposite of Lucy in almost every aspect, whereas he's a good-hearted kid, and always thinking of other people before himself. He's Charlie's best friend, and Lucy's younger brother, who is always driving her crazy. But there's also that obsession of his with the Great Pumpkin at Halloween. To this day no one has seen the Great Pumpkin, not even Linus, the most devout follower, but he steadily believes, no matter what the outcome may be. He's also one of the most entertaining characters, given his eccentricities.
And then there's Snoopy, the dog who put the "snoop" in "Snoop Dogg". Ok, feel free to moan and groan if you must, I already did. Here is The Dog who made others only wish they could fly a doghouse, do battle with the Red Baron himself, tease and suffer innumerable scratches and claw marks from the insidious cat next door, and maintain a mystique that can only belong to Snoopy himself. Although he shares his wisdom and his hi-jinks with his best friend, the one and only Woodstock, who is probably as eccentric as Snoopy himself.
Snoopy can literally do anything he wants; he can ride a motorcycle, fly his doghouse, play tennis, cook gourmet meals(including Thanksgiving dinner in a single Peanuts episode!! Top that!) and plenty of other things. He also knows how to twirl a dogfood dish like nobody's business, as well as summon Charlie Brown as if he were his personal valet. He taught Charlie Brown how to be a world-class marble shooter so he could beat a bully at his own game, and he also took over Lucy's psychiatric practice on one occasion, before she came back and was disgusted at how nothing in the neighborhood had changed. He can even travel on a bus from one place to another for summer camp, or if he's traveling with Charlie to save money. Marmaduke's a funny dog, but Snoopy could give him lessons on how to make toast. One can only wonder what the inside of Snoopy's doghouse actually looks like, which would make a great episode if someone would write it.
Woodstock himself is a funky little yellow bird, as eccentric as Snoopy himself, and just as outspoken. It is actually true that during the Vietnam War, both Snoopy and Woodstock were prominent on many U.S. soldiers' helmets in the 60's and early 70's, although I'm not sure what purpose they could have served, other than having some reminder of what the soldiers were looking forward to when they got home. Some piece of a normal life waiting for them once their time was done and they could go home. But this is only a historical footnote. But back to the bird. For years he's belonged to Snoopy's bird-scout troop, which is well-documented in the strip. Woodstock is well known as Snoopy's partner in crime as well as imagination, and the two of them share in many off-beat adventures, whether they may see any real success or not makes little difference to them, they just know they're having a great time. To this day, however, Woodstock lives in a large bird's nest, although he briefly had a birdhouse, which only worked out for a short time, before Snoopy accidentally destroyed it with his nose while trying to get in.
Marcie is another great character, who finds herself playing mediator between Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown, for whatever reason. Whether it's because Patty wants to play a game of baseball against Charlie or she simply wants to drive him crazy, she simply can't seem to do without Marice, who has always called her "sir". This is an oddity in this series which has never been explained, but maybe it's not supposed to be. Maybe it's just her thing in a cast of already eccentric yet creative and goodhearted characters. Marcie is great, having enough patience to put up with Patty's jock obsessions, and also able to do battle with Lucy if the time ever came up(and it has!). Her own logic and wisdom make her a perfect companion for her friends, and it's been hinted at over the years that she has a crush on Charlie Brown, which Patty does as well. Peppermint Patty, the only true, dyed-in-the-wool sports jock in the series, is enough to drive anyone crazy with her constant obsession with anything new in the sports world, as well as the fact that she has control issues that rival even Lucy's. How many comics characters can actually say that?? She made the others aware of the emerging sport of motocross in the early 70's, whether they really cared or not. I remember when it first came out as a big thing, and believe me, my attention span for it didn't last long at all. I was still being introduced to the X-Men and the Avengers at the time. Just saying!
And then there's Schroeder, the only musician in the group, aside from Snoopy--I told you he could do anything!--who puts up with Lucy in a way no one else could. Perhaps he believes that every great musician should have a girl lie on his piano, or maybe he's not even aware of her existence while he's playing, but Lucy is the only character who's able to get away with what she does while he plays. And even though she has tried to interrupt his playing, Schroeder is well-protected by the influence of his musical prowess, as well as the influence of Beethoven, from which the boy can't be shaken.
And lastly, but not least, is the mysterious Little Red Haired Girl, who was in fact based on a girl that Charles Schulz had a massive crush on in his youth, but was left unrequited for so many years. As a matter of fact, it's unknown as to whether or not anything ever came of their non-existent relationship. But what's interesting is that she made a big enough impression on Schulz that he kept her in the series, even though she wasn't a regular character, but would occasionally pop up from time to time. This is actually true and documented in his autobiography, but I'm sure his wife wasn't worried about it, since nothing ever happened between them, obviously.
And on a last note, I want to say that although I admit I honestly do miss Charles Schulz and the possibilities of more Peanuts cartoons he could have given us, I am grateful for everything that he did give us, a comic strip that helped teach me to read and give me people I could relate to when I was very young. The genius of Schulz' work is that they can be related to by everybody, in every generation, with maybe the only exception being terrorists. And there must a Charlie Brown in there, somewhere.
Unfortunately I can't actually say anything about the movie itself, since I haven't seen it, but when I do, I'll be more than happy to write about it. But I can write about what I do know about the characters themselves, which is enough for this blog. I hope people have enjoyed the movie as much as I will, seeing as how as it is Number Two in the country. I mean, their only competition is James Bond, for God's sake. And he's probably the only one who could compete with them! I mean, good grief! lol