by: S. Scott Stanikmas – Senior Staff Writer
It’s funny that when writing this review I’m reminded of a phrase I heard in a recent episode of The Walking Dead – “Everything gets a return.” The same holds true for this new version of Charles M. Schulz’s beloved characters in their newest feature length film The Peanuts Movie. And while this isn’t a reimagining or a drastic change to the status quo it is a nice little update for a newer generation to get to know Charlie Brown and his lovable gang.
The film isn’t a deep meditation on life or anything of the sorts – the main storyline involves everyone’s favorite blockhead trying to win the attentions and affection of the Little Red-Haired Girl who has just moved into the neighborhood. Meanwhile a fun little side plot sees Snoopy go off into his own fantasy world and face off against his classic nemesis The Red Baron.
You could say this was a movie with something for every generation of viewer. For the people who grew up on such classics as A Charlie Brown Christmas or Snoopy Come Home, you’ve got the references here and there as well as some of the lines that have been forever etched into your memory. But it works well for the younger set who are experiencing the Peanuts gang for the first time as well, with no major continuity to tie it down and everything explained but never in a way that it felt like the audience was being talked down to.
While it did offer a more cheery and upbeat view, screenwriters Bryan & Craig Schulz and Cornelius Uliano along with director Steve Martino still maintained the melancholy of the source material. While good ol’ Charlie Brown does have his victories here and there, it’s not without the sting of disappointment in the long run.
To see the usually 2D characters generated in a 3D style was an invigorating shot in the arm for the franchise. And if you have the option I strongly suggest you go 3D with this one. While images don’t jump off the screen at you, the fantasy sequences that pit the Flying Ace (Snoopy) against The Red Baron actually benefit from the extra depth and dimension.
Kids and kids-at-heart will find something to enjoy here. The Peanuts Movie manages to update a classic franchise without straying too far from what made Charles Schulz’s creation relatable. The movie feels timeless, like it could be happening anywhere at any time (no need to give the Peanuts gang all Smartphones or update their clothing to fit more modern and fleeting trends, there by dating the film to one specific era). All in all, an enjoyable little snack for the young and old.