When Blue Sky Studios announced its plans to make a full-length film based on Charles Schulz’s classic comic strip Peanuts, fans began to question whether Blue Sky bit off more than it could chew. The primary concern was whether the filmmakers and animators would stay true to Schulz’s vision. After all, Schulz’s strips contain themes and styles that many studios shy away from, including melancholy tones, dealing with failure, and a gentle, slow-paced form of comedy. These themes are what make the Peanuts comic strips, TV specials, and movies so special and fans wondered whether the studio would keep these elements intact.
Well, we needn’t have worried. The Peanuts Movie is just the kind of movie that Peanuts fans have dreamed about!
The Peanuts Movie begins as a new family moves into Charlie Brown’s (Noah Schnapp) neighborhood. This family includes a pretty Little Red-Haired Girl (Francesca Capaldi). Charlie desperately wants to meet her, but he can’t work up enough confidence to introduce himself. He turns to his five-cent psychiatrist, Lucy van Pelt (Hadley Belle Miller), who tells Charlie he must become “a winner” to get the Red-Haired Girl’s attention. With this goal in mind, Charlie sets out to impress his dream girl. Meanwhile, Charlie’s dog, Snoopy (Bill Melendez), has his own imaginary adventure as he strives to rescue his dream dog, Fifi (Kristin Chenoweth), from the clutches of the dreaded Red Baron.
The story sticks to the episodic style that was prominent throughout Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez’s TV specials. The script is built around several set-pieces (a school dance, a standardized test, and a talent show, just to name a few), and each set-piece is geared toward the theme of Charlie Brown trying to impress the Little Red-Haired Girl. Each sequence fits nicely into the main plot; nothing feels superfluous or unnecessary. On top of that, Snoopy’s imaginary adventure complements the story’s main plot quite nicely. Sure, there are biplanes and exotic locations in Snoopy’s quest, but the basic story is the same as Charlie Brown’s!
The animators behind The Peanuts Movie have taken care to retain the visual style of Schulz’s strips, as well as Mendelson and Melendez’s TV specials. The film boasts a cool-looking style of animation, blending CG animation with a 2D look. The animators made sure to maintain the rough lines and minimalist style that have always distinguished Peanuts, and their effort really pays off. The sets look like they were lifted right out of the strips and specials. The characters also look exactly as we’ve always seen them. (The only exceptions are during Snoopy’s daydreams, where the backgrounds are more lush and detailed. The characters still retain their Schulz-esque look, though.)
Along with retaining Schulz’s original style, the filmmakers also sprinkled the film with lots of fun Peanuts Easter eggs! The film is seasoned with tiny snippets of dialogue that are lifted directly from the TV specials and most of the music is taken right from Vince Guaraldi’s classic Peanuts scores. The filmmakers also included many tiny, oft-forgotten details, such as Snoopy’s love of root beer and cameos by Snoopy’s brothers and sisters.
Overall, The Peanuts Movie is a wonderful film that totally does justice to Charles Schulz’s original vision. It’s definitely a must-see for any animation fan, Peanuts lover, or both!
What do you think? Did you like The Peanuts Movie? Why or why not?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes