The first feature film adaptation of Charles M. Schulz’s legendary comic strip since his death at the beginning of the millennium, it’s been a long time coming for the Peanuts franchise to get another crack at a fully-fledged cinematic release. Steve Martino’s (Ice Age: Continental Drift) Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie takes the try-hard Charlie Brown and his mischievous dog Snoopy back to what made the writers work so universally loved in the first place: full of spirited, tenacious and-oh-so-charming family-friendly shenanigans.
You’ve got to love Charlie Brown; rocking the same clothes every day and with a lack of hair oh-so-unfair on someone yet to hit double figures in age, he’s reliably (and very adorably) clumsy, and no-one, particularly his school chums, expect anything less. A luckless trier with a big heart, our charming protagonist hits new-age boy troubles when a cute never-named redhead (Francesca Capaldi) arrives on the scene and steals his heart.
Like a love sick puppy eager to impress, Charlie – in the midst of school exams, kite flying and book reports – is wracked with typical romantic anguish. Setting out to prove himself worthy of the newly established light of his life with some not-so-helpful advice from the always-on-his-case Lucy (Hadley Belle Miller), Schulz’s leading boy learns the true importance of being one’s self.
Although classed as a kids flick, Martino’s The Peanuts Movie is ultimately ageless. Although those born of this century may not be particularly clued up on this comic-turned-mega-bucks-phenomena, this smile-inducing adaptation has the personality, and the heart-warming nostalgia, to make it an appealing spectacle for young, old and those in-between.
Yet at its heart is a rather convincing – and for many a guy out there, a painfully reminiscent -romance. In a year when we’ve had the likes of Trainwreck, Man Up and The Diary of a Teenage Girl hit our screens, it’s hard to imagine that an animated tale of an awkward boy and his dog would prove to be one of the most truthful tales of young love this year. Riddled with “a serious case of inadequacy”, at its core the film – like Schulz’s greatest work – teaches us about persistence and strength, wrapped up in a quirky, yet oddly realistic, yellow and black bow.
Sweet, charming and a little ridiculous, there’s a humour to it – sometimes childish (stinky kids, Snoopy antics), other times painfully accurate (“Maybe I’m not ready for a committed relationship?”) – which stands the test of 90 minutes. There’s a sense though that amongst its all-round busyness, such plot strands as Snoopy’s work-in-process novel – a side story to Charlie’s romance – become an unnecessary distraction from a spectacle which simply has enough working for it already.
If you’re force hasn’t been awoken by a certain space adventure that’s just been released, or you’re looking for something to entertain the kids this festive season, The Peanuts Movie – fun-filled, lol-inducing and, most of all, smashingly heart-warming – is perfect holiday viewing.