The Peanuts Movie
The Peanuts Movie
Director: Steve Martino
Writers: Bryan Schultz, Craig Schultz, Charles M. Schulz, Cornelius Uliano
Voice Cast: Noah Schnapp, Bill Melendez, Hadley Belle Miller, Trombone Shorty, Rebecca Bloom, Anastasia Bredikhina, Francesca Capaldi, Kristin Chenoweth, Alexander Garfin, Noah Johnston, Micah Revelli, Venus Schultheis, Mariel Sheets, Madisyn Shipman, A.J. Tecce, Marleik Mar Mar Walker, William Wunsch
Synopsis: 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.
MPAA Rating: G
Stevennix2001's Rating and Review Summary for those that want to skip the full review below:
9.7 / 10
- Great animation, as it comes off as a hybrid of traditional hand drawn animation and CGI that helps give the film it's own unique aesthetic feel and tone.
- The amalgamation of various "Peanuts" story lines meshed into one huge story was a nice idea, and it definitely helps make it a nice tribute to such a beloved franchise.
- Voice acting was good, as the kids playing these characters definitely sounded like the previous voice actors of the past.
- Interesting take on the Little Red Haired Girl
- Humor was funny
- The film plays off people's nostalgia senses, by playing it straight up as a homage to the classic peanuts stories, and it works rather well here.
- Hadley Belle Miller's scream sequences sounded rehearsed and fake. But apart from that small gripe, the rest of her performance for Lucy was pretty spot on.
You're a good animation company, Blue Sky Studios.
While I wasn't the biggest fan of any of the "Rio" or "Ice Age" films, that's not to say that I downright hated them either. At best, i would say they were mostly generic middle of the road films that were decent for families, but they were nowhere near the epic quality that Pixar or Dreamworks would put out. And then, Blue Sky Studios had to prove me wrong by releasing this film.
One of the biggest fears that I had coming into this movie was that Blue Sky Studios would try to modernize it in some way. Introducing various modern day devices like showing Lucy on her iphone, while Snoopy plays "Halo 5" or whatever on X-Box One. My other fear would be that maybe we'd see Charlie Brown and Linus tweeting to each other instead of talking on their trademark ledge. Thankfully, Blue Sky Studios didn't do any of those things. Instead, the film pretty much plays it straight, while becoming something of a homage to the original "Peanuts" series.
Featuring various callbacks and references to some of the earlier TV specials such as the famous Charlie Brown Christmas tree special, to even the "It's the Great Pumpkin , Charlie Brown." Hell, there's even a homage to some of Snoopy's infamous battles with the Red Baron, which coincides nicely with the rest of the story.
Unlike previous TV specials or animated movies featuring the "Peanuts" gang in the past, this one isn't going to tell us anything new about the characters that we didn't already know. Instead, it's more of an amalgamation of some of the previous stories that we've seen in the past. One minute, we see Charlie Brown writing a book report on "War and Peace", and the next minute seeing him struggle to talk to the Little Red Haired Girl. Indeed, this film is more of a homage to the series, and it's definitely a touching tribute to say the least.
When I saw the movie, I was relieved that they didn't try to modernize it in anyway because one of the things that made the "Peanuts" characters timeless was the fact that you could always go back to them. It didn't matter if you were born in the 50's, 60's or later because the characters were deeply relatable, and it never felt like it was set in any particular time period, which only adds to it's already contemporary timeless feel. Charlie Brown doesn't need to play on X-Box Live, nor do we need to see him jamming out on tunes from his iphone to be relatable. He already is, and that's why we love him so much. He's the every man that we all can relate to and admire, which is why I was glad to see they didn't try to shoehorn any modern pop culture references into this film because it doesn't need them.
The animation for this movie was outstanding, as it seems to be something of a hybrid between traditional 2-D animation and CGI animation that works together quite well. In fact, you could argue that the style of CGI animation used in this film not only pays homage to the classic "Peanuts" comic strip style, but it also gives the movie it's own aesthetic look and feel that separates it from any other animated feature out there. And if you can afford to see it in 3-D, then it only makes the visuals that much more of a treat to watch.
However, what I find most intriguing about this movie is the role of the Little Red Haired Girl. As most die hard fans will tell you, the Little Red Haired Girl was never an actual character per say in the original comic strips, TV specials and etc. She was always more of a metaphor of the unrequited love and/or desire that we all felt for someone in the past, at one point or another. She was always the unattainable girl. She was the idea of perfection. And since she was never given a name, this only made Charlie Brown's character even more interesting because we could imprint ourselves into his situation a lot better. We could also imagine that the Little Red Haired Girl was an abstract representation of the dream girl we've always yearned for, when we were younger.
And for the most part, she still plays the same role throughout most of the film, but the key difference here is that she has a key moment around the end, where it almost seems like she becomes something of an avatar for the audience. This not only makes her new role in the movie rather interesting, but it adds a new dynamic to the story that I never saw coming.
(Warning: The Next Paragraph Has A Possible Spoiler. Skip the next paragraph if you don't want any spoilers)
Allow me to explain. At the end of the movie, the Little Red Haired Girl finally gets confronted by Charlie Brown. When asked why she chose to become his pen pal over the summer, she goes off describing all the memorable qualities that we always saw in Charlie Brown in the past, but he rarely ever gives himself credit for; hence citing that in spite of his flaws, and insecurities, that he's really a nice guy that's always trying to do what's right rather than what's popular. At that instance alone, it almost makes it seem like she became an avatar for the audience, as she basically nailed all the positive qualities that we love about Charlie Brown over the years. It's very interesting to watch, and it definitely adds to the homage aspect about this movie.
Apart from all these qualities, there is one minor flaw with this movie that I feel needs to be addressed. While the voice acting for the characters is pretty spot on for the most part, the only gripe that I would have is the voice actress for Lucy (Hadley Belle Miller) didn't exactly sound convincing whenever she had to scream. Not saying she was terrible in her role, as I actually enjoyed her performance. However, as any fan of this franchise knows, there were moments when Lucy yelled whenever Snoopy licked or kissed her. She'd go off on her rant about how disgusted she is by having a dog kiss her like that. And if you listen to the audio of the previous TV specials in comparison to the voice actress here, it almost sounds like the scream she does sounds rehearsed and scripted. Almost as if Hadley Belle Miller wasn't even trying to convey any emotion, during those moments.
Aside from that little nitpick though, the rest of the film was quite a treat to watch. And it's definitely one of the best animated movies of this year. Also, I would like to suggest to my readers to stay throughout the credits, as there's quite a few scenes spread throughout it that are funny.
Overall, "The Peanuts Movie" is a touching tribute to a franchise that has long since been in our hearts for ages, while reintroducing it to a modern generation. If you haven't seen it yet, then I would highly recommend it.
© 2015 Steven Daniels