Admirably, the makers of The Peanuts Movie have stayed true to the simplicity and the somewhat quaint humor of creator Charles M Schulz’s beloved comic strip. Despite being computer animated, and presented in 3D, the film nicely replicates the look and feel of the squiggly hand-drawn source material.
The slim plot is centered on the lovable but perpetually clumsy and insecure Charlie Brown as he fails in his multiple attempts to make an impression on his new crush, the Little Red-Haired Girl who just moved in next door. Meanwhile, his pet dog Snoopy is still banging away at a typewriter when he isn’t fantasizing about battling his fighter-pilot nemesis the Red Baron.
The script (co-written by Schulz’s son Craig and grandson Bryan) taps into your nostalgia for these characters, and the mild laughs are mostly derived from a sense of familiarity with the material. Charlie Brown still gets his kite caught in a tree, and has the football whisked away by Lucy before he gets a chance to kick it. The entire gang is back, including Linus, Sally, Peppermint Patty, and Woodstock. It’s what you might describe as a “greatest hits” collection of old gags and tested jokes.
At a time when most animated films tend to be loud and noisy, and cheery to a fault, The Peanuts Movie maintains the melancholy spirit of Schulz’s comic strip. While reiterating that kindness and honesty will always matter, it also makes a case for the importance of failure and disappointment in shaping one’s life.
I’m going with three out of five for The Peanuts Movie. Older fans will not be disappointed.