Friday, November 27, 2015

Tonight's Movie: The Peanuts Movie (2015)

I've been a fan of Charles Schulz's PEANUTS since receiving a paperback book of his comic strips as a birthday gift when I was quite young. I was thus curious to see how THE PEANUTS MOVIE (2015) would treat the beloved characters, and I'm happy to report the film is a success.

THE PEANUTS MOVIE blends classic PEANUTS storytelling with shiny new computer visuals. You might say it's a sweet, old-fashioned story dressed up in some eye-catching new clothes.

All the familiar characters are on hand in vignettes which are as timeless as PEANUTS. Charlie Brown pines after the Little Red-Haired Girl, Snoopy pretends he's the Red Baron, and yes, Charlie Brown believes that this time Lucy will hold on to the football. The film cleverly refers to the characters' history from time to time in brief black and white "flashbacks."

The classic Vince Guaraldi music was also incorporated into the soundtrack, and there's even a wonderful cameo by "Christmastime is Here." And the use of Schroeder playing the 20th Century-Fox fanfare is inspired!

I was dubious about seeing these characters in computerized animation, but the movie actually looks terrific, with a bright, appealing appearance. It added a pleasing new dimension to enjoying the old gang.

The voice casting was also excellent, sounding rather like the voices in the old cartoons; Noah Schnapp was just right as Charlie Brown. Archival recordings of Bill Melendez were used for Snoopy and Woodstock. The most familiar voice in the credits is Kristin Chenoweth, who voices Fifi, Snoopy's pilot love.

My one complaint is I think the movie defaulted a little too often to Snoopy's Red Baron sequences, but that's a minor quibble. All in all this is an enjoyable film which should please old fans while hopefully winning new ones.

THE PEANUTS MOVIE was directed by Steve Martino. It runs 88 minutes.

Parental advisory: THE PEANUTS MOVIE is rated G.


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