When the Peanuts movie was announced in 2012, many fans were understandably a little anxious. After all, what makes the classic comic strip so special is that it came from a very unique mindspace: that of its creator, Charles Schulz. Even the TV specials and feature-length movies shared Schulz’s vision because Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson, the producers behind the projects, included Schulz in the creative process. Unfortunately, since Schulz died in 2000, he isn’t around to help shepherd the new film, The Peanuts Movie, coming in November. The newest trailer has done much assuage fears about the film, but a lot remains to be seen.
That being said, there are some simple principles to which Blue Sky Studios can can adhere to make sure that they do Peanuts justice. Here are four of them.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Serious
One of the most iconic moments in all the Peanuts specials is the moment in A Charlie Brown Christmas when Linus takes the stage and recites the Nativity story to Charlie Brown and the gang. It’s a moving moment, and it perfectly encapsulates one of the things that makes Peanuts special: its fearlessness in touching subjects that other comic strips wouldn’t. Using his strip, Schulz discussed such topics as depression, coping with failure, religion and faith, and dealing with loneliness. If the new movie is to do Peanuts justice, it must be willing to deal with the same subject matter.
Portray What it’s Really Like to be a Kid
Another element that made Schulz’s work unique is that he never forgot what it was like to be a kid. He projected that understanding into his work, helping us to revisit the perspective that we had as kids. In so doing, Schulz helped create the definitive examples of secret crushes (Charlie Brown and the little red-haired girl), unrequited childhood love (Sally and her “sweet babboo,” Linus), the intense competition of a Little League season, and so on. Fortunately, the makers of the new film seem to understand this idea and have cast child actors to voice all of the characters. Hopefully, the script will do its part by portraying these characters the way that real kids act.
Portray the Power of the Imagination
One of the things that makes Snoopy great (and my personal favorite Peanuts character) is his powerful imagination. During the course of the strips and specials, we saw Snoopy imagine himself as a famous author, an professional skater, a bunch of different animals, and, most famously, a World War I flying ace. If the new film is to do Snoopy justice, it needs to use 3D animation to take us even deeper into Snoopy’s fantasies than we’ve ever been before. Luckily, according to the trailers and their aerial dogfights (no pun intended) above Paris, it looks like the movie is going to do exactly that!
Several times over the course of It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Linus reminds Sally that the Great Pumpkin will show himself only to those who are the most sincere. What Linus doesn’t say, though, is that sincerity is not only needed to see the Great Pumpkin, but also to make a great Peanuts film. If there’s one thing that Blue Sky Studios must never do over the course of the new film, it’s be sarcastic. One of the things that makes Peanuts so special and unique, even after all these years, is that Charles Schulz always totally believed in what he was doing. He always kept an open, honest, hopeful view on the world and made sure his characters did the same. If the makers of the new film are going to stay true to Schulz’s vision, they must do as Schulz did.
Along with every other Peanuts and animation fan in the world, I’m eagerly anticipating the new film. Also, like every other fan in the world, I’m also hoping that the filmmakers will take care to adhere to what made Schulz’s original work so amazing. If said filmmakers will make sure to hold to the same basic principles that Schulz did, we’ll be sure to see a wonderful film come November!
What do you think? What does The Peanuts Movie have to do to be truly great?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes