Recently, a film based on Jem and the Holograms was so bad that it broke a world record for the shortest time in theaters, only being shown for two weeks! Yet this film was being shown at the same time as two actually good modern reboots of classic franchises. One of them was Goosebumps, and the other one is what I’ll be gushing critiquing writing about today: The Peanuts Movie!
I feel like this article will end up being less of a review of The Peanuts Movie and more of a challenge for me to say all of the ways this movie is the greatest thing to happen to humanity since World War II ended in less than one thousand words, but that’s not going to stop me.
Now if you don’t know what Peanuts is… you completely fail as a human being who has lived on the planet Earth long enough to read basic words. Seriously, click this link, close this window, and don’t come back until you’ve read at least ten years worth of Peanuts comics. Alternatively, you could just watch this five minute video recapping the 65-year history of Peanuts, but at least one of these should be done to fully understand how great this movie is.
This movie stars Charlie Brown, just an average everyday kid who happens to have the absolute worst luck imaginable, and his dog, Snoopy. Everything starts out as a normal day, with Charlie Brown trying his best and failing to fly a kite for the hundredth time, but everything changes when a new girl comes to class. What’s her name? Well, everybody just calls her The Little Red-Haired girl like in the comics and specials, but if you look closely in one scene you can see that her name is Heather Wold.
Who cares about thing like names anyway, the real important thing is that Charlie Brown immediately falls in love. Of course, being the person who’s name has become synonymous with failure, he believes that she will never like him. But after talking to most-likely unlicensed and uneducated child psychiatrist Lucy Van Pelt, he decides to try his best to actually win something for once after sixty-five years with the help of his dog that’s better at everything than him.
Will he succeed?
Why do you expect me to tell you, I’m not going to spoil the entire movie in a review! Meanwhile, Snoopy finds a typewriter and writes a novel about a World War I flying ace fighting the Red Baron while also trying to find the girl of his dreams, fantasizing that he’s the main character.
Let’s start this by talking about the art of this movie. The animators did an outstanding job making the characters and locations look exactly like they did in the original comics while still making them look new. Over at these links you can see an iconic scene from the original comics and a screenshot from the movie recreating it. Yeah, that is as close to perfect as you could really get.
I read that they even used the comics for reference on every facial expression they needed. Also, did I mention the entire voice cast is made up of children, like how A Charlie Brown Christmas was famous for doing when nobody else ever did before? Of course you may be wondering, what about the adults’ voices? Answer: much like the classic TV specials except for one, there aren’t any. All you’ll hear from the adults is just the iconic sound of a saxophone going “Wah, wah waaah…” and you will never see what any of the adults look like. They also recorded all the voices on outdated microphones to simulate the audio quality of the original cartoons.
The scenes during Snoopy’s subplot have a much different feel than the rest of the movie, but they still definitely fit in with the rest of the film. It’s not like it’s unnecessary either; an action movie that involves World War I fighter jets definitely should feel different than a slice-of-life film about a group of ordinary kids who have somehow stayed “more than five” years old for sixty-five years, are completely aware of the passage of time, and never question it.
The creators of this film have definitely done their research on the Peanuts franchise. Even if you ignore the perfect recreation of the art style, you also have tons of references to the cartoons and comics that only the biggest Peanuts fans would understand. For example, The Little Red-Haired Girl’s name is based on her first name, Heather, only told in the cartoon It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, and the last name of her real-life inspiration, Donna Wold. There were references to the favorite comic book of the original writer, Charles Schulz, several jokes and plot elements were taken from the comics and cartoons, and there are even references to rather obscure characters like Violet, Patty (hold the peppermint), Shermy, and 555 95472. Oh, you think I’m lying about a character named 555 95472 existing? Well, take a look for yourself! That was in the newspaper on October 1, 1963. For realsies.
The Peanuts Movie is a great movie that both Peanuts fans and newcomers to the franchise could enjoy, although fans will probably enjoy it a bit more. They did an amazing job making the film feel like the comics and cartoons while still providing something new to the franchise. I give this film 10 doghouse-shaped planes out of 10. Mr. Schulz would be proud.
Hey, my personal challenge was successful!