Good ol’ Charlie Brown, the insecure, the pessimistic, and the eminently flappable has arrived on the big screen bringing his good-natured lack of confidence and naïve lack of kite-flying skill with him.
Steve Martino brings the comic script to life in a move that appears to be something of a labour of love for the Horton Hears a Who! director. Produced with sensitivity, Martino has delivered the work of someone who seems to have the requisite level of adoration for the comic strip and its peculiar set of inhabitants. Despite a big budget and a 3D presentation, The Peanuts Movie feels like an old fashioned, even quaint, cartoon and devotees of the comic should be relieved to know that this feels pretty well in the spirit of the source material.
As if Charlie Brown didn’t have enough to contend with, what with his innate lack of footballing prowess, a new Little Red-Haired Girl moves into town immediately casting a spell over the morose little chap. Quite taken by her, he sets out to impress in any way he can: participating in the school talent contest, writing a report on the novel War & Peace and learning to dance. Snoopy meanwhile, discovers a typewriter and, following a run-in with a toy aeroplane, begins work on his opus charting the adventures of his pilot alter-ego and his battles with the Red Baron.
There’s nothing hugely complex to deal with here, but the bevvy of relatable characters on show means that The Peanuts Movie retains a charming, identifiable sensibility. The interplay between the children, with their insecurities and foibles is charming to see. These may be cartoons, but they really feel like little people, little children tackling tiny problems that seem like the most important things in the world. Despite the paired-down, small-scale problems, there’s something of the human condition to ponder over here.
The animation manages to retain a nice homemade feel, despite the fact it’s plainly very, very expensive. There’s a timeless quality to the story too; it’s unclear as to when this is even set with a possibility that it may be in the fifties, harking back to the comic, and a chance it may be closer to the present day.
It’s unfussy and uncomplicated fun. Very tiny movie-goers should find much to giggle at, and those who remember the comic strip fondly should warm to this too.
Animation, Comedy, Adventure | USA, 2015 | 21st December 2015 (UK) |20th Century Fox Pictures | Dir.Steve Martino | Noah Schnapp, Bill Melendez, Hadley Belle Miller