Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie(2015)
- RatedG /GenreAdventure, Animation, Comedy
Christmas has come early for those who grew up with the companionship of Charlie Brown and his iconic beagle, Snoopy.
The famous ‘Peanuts’ franchise by Charles M. Schulz returns to the big screen as a feature length film for the first time in 35 years, in time to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the comic strip’s publication.
No doubt there will be as much relief as there is joy that ‘The Peanuts Movie’ faithfully retains many features of its source material, delivering a large dose of nostalgia and familiarity to fans of the franchise.
However, there is a catch to this faithfulness; the simplicity of the plot does not translate well on-screen. In spite of its feel-good elements, ‘Peanuts’ runs on very thin and light material, barely able to fill up its mere 93-minute run and making it almost tedious to sit through.
TRUE TO THE SOURCE
Charlie Brown (voiced by Noah Schnapp) is a kind-hearted but failure-prone boy who has to get through wintry days with a streak of bad luck and an infamous reputation attached to his name. But an opportunity for a fresh start arrives with the Little Red-Haired Girl (Francesca Angelucci Capaldi), a new neighbour who moves into the house directly across from Charlie’s.
Instantly smitten, Charlie is determined to make a good impression with the Girl, if only he could keep his misfortune at bay.
The loyal beagle, Snoopy (Bill Melendez), aids Charlie in his quest for love. But Snoopy is equally caught up with his own fantasies, writing a novel about his adventures as a World War I flying ace and his romantic pursuit of a female pilot.
‘Peanuts’ instantly proves to be a worthy homage to its beloved source material. Penned by the late Schulz’s son and grandson, the 3D animated film preserves much of the franchise’s essence, down to its characters, settings and subplots.
Charlie Brown continues to be the loveable reject who desperately stumbles in virtually anything he pursues. His sincerity and admirable perseverance in spite of it all provides the backbone of the film.
The unfortunate protagonist shares his screen time with many other iconic characters of the ‘Peanuts’ gang.
From Charlie’s relationships with sister Sally (Mariel Sheets) and loyal bestie Linus van Pelt (Alex Garfin), to the insensitive Lucy van Pelt (Hadley Belle Miller) and her obvious infatuation with Beethoven-wannabe Schroeder (Noah Johnston), to the tomboy Peppermint Patty (Venus Omega Schultheis) and the ever-filthy Pig-Pen (AJ Teece), their presence admirably preserves the diverse character traits that populate the franchise.
A wealth of other familiar references to setting and other plot elements are littered throughout, and fans will no doubt find tremendous delight in these. But where nostalgia and faithfulness are the film's strongest traits, its failure to provide anything else leaves little appeal to those who are not familiar with the franchise.
LIGHT AND FORGETTABLE
Franchise references aside, ‘Peanuts’ is little more than extremely light-hearted holiday fare. If anything, it ends up being too light to have any substance. Lacking depth and significant meaning, the film feels more like a patchwork of Charlie’s endeavours, anchored only by humour that gradually wanes in its effect as the film progresses.
Providing much needed respite from the main plot are Snoopy’s war fantasies, inserted as a subplot at various points throughout the film. But while fans will appreciate these as yet another major element preserved from the source material, the action-packed daydreams end up resembling only commercial breaks on the big screen, struggling to find any meaningful place in the narrative of a feature film.
For all the nostalgia, charm and humour that ‘Peanuts’ has to offer, it amounts to little more than a well-meaning experience that does not punctuate its shallow comedic surface.
The franchise fans will find what they are looking for. The uninitiated will find little else. And with nothing solid to hold on to, 'Peanuts' is simple, good fun that viewers will quickly forget.
'Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie' opens 10 December