Peanuts is one of the most successful comic strips of all time. I had got the anthology for one Christmas, and I remember reading it from cover-to-cover in a matter of days. And while there have been many animated versions, the last one was over 35 years ago. Can Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie replicate the success of the original works?
Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie stars Noah Schnapp, Alex Garfin, Bill Melendez, Francesca Angelucci Capaldi and Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and is directed by Steve Martino. Based on the comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, the film follows Charlie Brown (Schnapp) and the rest of the Peanuts gang, as a new student, The Little Red-Haired Girl (Capaldi) joins their class in school.
When I heard that Peanuts was going to get a feature film, I was a little worried about how they were going to adapt it. I was concerned with how the filmmakers would be able to get child actors to portray some of the most recognisable and beloved characters in all of comic books (despite the plethora of characters under Marvel and DC). Luckily, the film uses the original Schulz designs, with the film working on a 2D plain. Credit to the animators and Art Director Nash Dunnigan, who manage to recreate the hand-drawn style of the comics into CGI, without anything being lost in the process.
It’s not just the art style that has been replicated in the film either. Several of the scenarios and settings from the comics, such as the skating pond, Snoopy’s doghouse, and Lucy’s psychiatrist booth (where some of the funniest lines of the film are) all feature in the film. It’s a treat for anyone who loved the comics, despite what age they are.
The jokes try and compete with the layered jokes of Pixar but not enough of them deliver enough for the accompanying adult audience, instead just focusing on the younger viewers. Some of the jokes, such as the previously mentioned lines in Lucy’s psychiatrist booth or an extended joke of Snoopy parodying The Great Escape are the standout moments, but most of the time the jokes are varying forms of slapstick, which does get old after a while.
My problems with the film however, rather overshadow what mostly is a good film. The BBFC rated the film as a U, with their comments being “no material likely to offend or harm.” This is the crux of the problem that I had with Snoopy And Charlie Brown. Despite the original comics having deep and complex philosophical, psychological and sociological tones, as well as kid-aimed films of recent times (see Paddington and Inside Out) featuring some heavy subjects, they are nowhere to be seen in the film. This really hurts Snoopy And Charlie Brown, as what used to be a sometimes-serious lineage is diluted into safe, lowbrow humour.
My other problems with the film come from its story content. While the film is just over 90 minutes (an average length for a child-aimed film) but most of the film is devoted to Snoopy writing his novel about The Red Baron, which descend into noisy explosion ridden dogfights (the airplane kind), instead of sticking with the much more interesting and engaging Charlie Brown story. While The Red Baron was a consistent recurring character point in the comics, it really doesn’t add anything to the overall film apart from a dash of Michael Bay’s Transformers.
In summary, Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie will probably delight the younger audience, but for anyone over the age of five or six, it won’t stand up with the best of the kid’s movies (basically everything Pixar bar Cars and Cars 2).
Score: 6/10 It’s sweet, but a little too shallow for a recommendation.