The Peanuts Movie
Director: Steve Martino
Talent: Noah Schnapp, Bill Melendez, Hadley Belle Miller
Release Date: 20th December 2015
The Peanuts Movie sees good old Charlie Brown dealing with the trials and disappointments of childhood. As in the long-running comic strip and its various adaptations, nothing ever seems to go Charlie’s way: he can’t fly a kite, his friends see him as a pitiful figure of fun and his new neighbour, The Little Red-Headed Girl, doesn’t even know he exists.
The action in Blue Sky’s 3-D animation is presented as a series of vignettes, and is doggedly faithful to the tone and texture of Charles Schultz comic. Though the movie de-emphasises the dread, despair and melancholy of Schultz’s work, it preserves an effortless sense of pathos.
Overall, the movie is sweet, charming and touching, though I did feel that some of the strip’s humour was muddled in the transition to spoken dialogue, with lines about Charlie Brown’s ‘failure face’ not landing as well as they should. However, it more than makes up for this with hilarious sight gags and some truly incredible animation.
The Peanuts Movie is to my mind the best-animated CG feature to date. The way in which the animators mix the three-dimensional character models with cel-style mouth and eye movements make the characters come to life as never before. Thus, the film narrows the gap between animated Peanuts and the comic strip source material. Schulz’s art is frequently used in thought-bubbles and cutaways, which makes for a fitting tribute and a unique piece of animation trickery all at once. The jerky manner in which Charlie Brown and the rest of his pint-sized pals move around is also deliberate mimicking the frame-y animation of the previous animated features and TV series but with a much higher fidelity. The Peanuts Movie reminds us why its comic strip endures. It’s a triumph of modern movie magic.
Words: Luke Maxwell