The Peanuts Movie, 2015
Directed by Steve Martino.
Featuring the voice talents of Bill Melendez, Noah Schnapp, Francesca Capaldi, Hadley Belle Miller, Alexander Garfin, Anastasia Bredikhina, Rebecca Bloom, Noah Johnston, Venus Schultheis, Mariel Sheets, A.J. Tecce, Kristin Chenoweth, and Trombone Shorty.
Snoopy embarks upon his greatest mission as he and his team take to the skies to pursue their arch-nemesis, while his best pal Charlie Brown begins his own epic quest back home to win the love of his life.
In an age where comic-book characters created in a bygone era are one of (if not the) biggest commodity on the planet, it was inevitable that some of the most beloved and revered would make their leap onto the big-screen once again. Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang have never really gone away, with everything from Scrubs to Family Guy showcasing their love of the characters (Stewie and Brian from Family Guy are almost copies of the famous duo), but now they have been put through the Blue Sky Studios animation machine for their first big-screen adventure.
Directed by Steve Martino (Horton Hears a Who), The Peanuts Movie acts as both a new adventure for the gang, as well as acting as a continuation to those stories that have gone before (days have passed, but the characters stay the same age) – back for a new term at school, Charlie, Patty, Lucy, Linus, Violet, Franklin and co. return to find a new girl has joined the class, who Charlie instantly takes a liking to. Liking meaning falling madly in love with, but it will take all of Charlie’s might to pluck up the courage to speak to her before school is out. Snoopy and Woodstock aren’t missing out on the fun by battling the Red Baron, who is keeping our favourite dog’s new beau Fifi (voiced by Kristen Chenoweth) hostage. Cue many delightful aerial battles and flights of fancy in amongst the beautiful skies above.
The true test for Martino and Co was how to bring a 55-year-old comic to the big screen in 2015. Computer generated? Hand-drawn like the classic tales of days gone by? Or completely revamp the animation in a way we have never seen before? The final product, in truth, is an amalgamation of all of the above, which brings the stories into the modern age without losing any of the animation, and indeed charm, of what preceded it.
The classic Schulz characteristics are all accounted for, from the wavy stink-lines around Pig Pen to the furrowed, worrisome brows of our hero Charlie, it’s classic meets contemporary all to wonderful effect. Of course, being a Blue Sky production the 3D animation aspects also come into play, but where usually such glossy “upgrades” can become a nuisance, it works quite well here: the surrounding settings which burst with colour and life, adding a further dimension to the already glowing images on-screen. That said, it stills remains to be seen if the little ones the film is aimed at will happily endure such extras.
The filmmakers also do a fine job in keeping the spirit of the comic on-screen as well as some of the more familiar beats with everything from kite flying, counselling sessions accounted for. Again, whether kids of today will be as interested in such things when a phone screen gives them so much more, but it may will peak their interests in reaching the “highest heights” of kite-flying. The film also does a great job with its message, for kids and adults, that even the smallest person can make a difference, and that even though we may feel like an outsider, we always have someone to lean on, all it takes is the first step. And lots of dancing.
A loving tribute to the glory of the Schulz’s long-enduring tales of a boy and his dog and their crazy adventures together, The Peanuts Movie is one of the more impressive animations of the year and is sure to keep everyone from eight to eighty entertained throughout, despite a slightly overlong runtime. A Christmas cracker.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Scott J. Davis is Senior Staff Writer at Flickering Myth and co-host of The Flickering Myth Review Podcast. Follow him on Twitter