Last year, in celebration of the Peanuts comic strip’s sixty-fifth anniversary, Blue Sky (the animation company most famous for its Ice Age movies) released a CG movie based on the strip. As a life-long fan of the strip, I had to watch it.
First of all, I enjoyed the animation style. It fit Schulz’s art style. They used both 3D computer animation and 2D styles. There were also references to the classic TV specials. For instance, the movie opens in winter, and many scenes from the Christmas special were re-created.
The children cast in the roles of the Peanuts kids also did an excellent job, which was good since they were mostly unknowns (only the Little Red-Haired Girl’s voice, Francesca Capaldi, had any prior acting experience. She stars in the Disney Channel’s Dog With a Blog). This was a continuation of the classic specials’ practice of using children for voices instead of adults. Schulz felt that this would sound more authentic and honest. At its core, Peanuts is a celebration of the innocence of childhood. The movie felt as though it followed a whole year with the gang, and had many subplots allowing us to see Charlie Brown as a true underdog, as he should be.
Now I want to address some criticisms I’ve heard. The music, for the most part, is similar to the classics, using many pieces from the shows. (Where would Peanuts be without the “Linus and Lucy” theme?) The sole exception is Meghan Trainor’s “Better When I’m Dancing”, recorded especially for the movie. The criticism was that having Meghan Trainor was a desperate attempt to appear hip and appeal to a younger audience. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Back in the 80’s, Peanuts tried to prove they were still relevant by making a special called “Flashbeagle”, attempting to parody Flashdance. Trainor’s song was great and it actually didn’t feel too out of place.
Snoopy was also criticized for being more of a sidekick than he originally was. In the past, Snoopy was a bit of a rascal. Here, however, he helps Charlie Brown attempt to win over the Little Red-Haired Girl, who has just moved into town. I liked this change, as there were often signs that Snoopy did love his master.
I enjoyed this movie a lot and highly recommend it to any fan of the original cartoons or the comic strip. There’s material for those who enjoyed the strip and those who know very little. I give it 5 stars.