Written By Tommy Tracy
Have you ever found yourself smiling so brightly that everything shines? You’re just grinning madly, so happy that you’re witnessing something great and pure, full of fun and joy that even small annoyances can’t bring you down? That is exactly what Peanuts did to me, making this fanboy grin so wide at every moment, making me feel like a kid again. Our hero, Charlie Brown, reiterates this emotion and we believe him because we get sucked into a world that take us back to when we were kids, innocent, joyful and exuberant. I was fearful when I heard about this film. With the absolute atrocities such as Underdog, Garfield and Marmaduke, I was scared this would go the some way; just slapping a known title on a terrible film to try and get some fast cash. Thankfully, this was the savior, proving you CAN make a great film out of a newspaper comic strip.
If you’re familiar with the Peanuts gang (which you should be), you are in for an absolute treat. We follow Charlie Brown, his sister, Sally, Linus, Lucy, Pigpen and of course, Snoopy and Woodstock, through an array of adventures all circling around Charlie’s recent foray into love with the new kid, known only as The Little Red-Haired Girl. What follows is some of the most genuine storytelling I’ve seen all year, and yes, that includes more adult-oriented films. We root for ol’ Chuck, knowing he isn’t the failure everyone makes him out to be and hoping he gets the courage to talk to this girl. Along the way, he interacts with his friends through a variety of different story points, from a snow day to standardized testing to book reports on War and Peace.
This is the only problem with Peanuts. While the adventure will stick with you through the 90-minute runtime, it does feel sort of episodic. When Charlie fixes one problem, he’s onto another and then another and then another and so on and so forth. The film is sort of broken up into twenty minute parts with Charlie ultimately failing in each of them and some Flying Ace/Red Baron adventures sprinkled in between. While this is always great in an anthology film, it doesn’t work for a feature not trying to be that and hinders the film a bit, though I don’t think most kids would mind.
But these are just small annoyances really. Sure, the plot is a bit thin but if the film is still great and I’m still enjoying it, can I blame the plot much? No, I cannot. As I’ve said, it is so genuine and joyful you can’t help but fall in love. It’s also HILARIOUS; every key character says or does something that’s going to make you laugh out loud, especially Snoopy and Woodstock. Snoopy shines, his facial expressions and body language selling me on his clever and mischievous plans. Lucy is her usual rude self and Pigpen is (dirt) clouded in mystery. If you’re a fan of the strip, you will adore the attention to character detail that made the gang such an important part of our lives. With references to the Great Pumpkin, the Red Baron and kite flying, the Schulz children pay an amazing homage to their father, taking precious care of characters that we know a lot about.
What more is there to say? Peanuts was great, defying my expectations, sending me into a happy shock that we got something this excellent and not a new Garfield. The voice cast is on point, the childlike atmosphere is there and there are a lot of hidden gems in there for fans. The story is a little weak but that will not hinder parents and children alike from absolutely loving this film. This gives me hope that there is someone out there who can make an AWESOME film adaptation of Calvin & Hobbes one day, my favorite comic strip.
Rating: 9 out of 10