Growing up in the ’70’s, I was a huge fan of the Peanuts franchise. Dipping into double figures in age, and then as a teenager, Charlie Brown summed up all the youthful angst you felt when nothing went your way. Linus was your smarter, though slightly less cooler friend, Lucy was your school nemesis… and Snoopy… well Snoopy was that weird kid that you didn’t fully understand, but would strangely always be there on your side if a fight broke out. I had all of the paperbacks, all of the almanacs, knew all characters, all of the plot-lines, had videos of all the half-hour specials – heck listening to Vince Guaraldi scores for the cartoon is what got me into listening to jazz!
All that said, I was very wary of how this ensemble of characters in a style I remember of the 70’s & 80’s would translate today. We’ve tried to watch those same old cartoons in my household over the past 10 years, and with the exception of the sentimentality of the Christmas special (going back to 1965 before I was born!), the mix of baseball, the Red Baron & Joe Cool never really caught on. So with some trepidation I turned up at the cinema, armed with a pair of 6-year-olds, somewhat fearing the worst…
Well, I am more than happy to report that this film hit the mark in every way. First of all, we got treated to an intro by the film’s director, Steve Martino, who held back nothing in passion about what a labour of love this had been for him and his team, and the 3 generations of the Schulz family that had contributed to its inception. And then the film itself delivered. The 3D CGI cartoon is great – it works perfectly – keeping a faithfulness to the original cartoons to maintain familiarity, but also adapting itself to the modern audience. The characters are all presented exactly as I remembered them, but the real gift is that they managed to fit in just about every key plot-line there is in Peanuts universe: Sally loves Linus, Lucy loves Schroeder, Schroeder loves Beethoven, Patti loves Charlie and of course, Charlie Brown loves the little red-haired girl. There’s that stupid kite-eating tree, Lucy’s 5-cent psychiatrist, baseball losses and football misses, the Red Baron, and Snoopy’s paw-biting snap-lock folder. Everything was there, and everything worked, even if the World War 1 flashbacks to the Red Baron were a little to surreal for some 6 year-old minds, the appearance of Woodstock & friends as Snoopy’s pit-crew more than compensated. There was of course, a brand new cast of youngsters providing the voices, but it was a lovely nod that the voices of Snoopy and Woodstock were provided from old recordings of their original voice, the late Bill Melendez, who passed away in 2008.
So just to summarise, this film hit every mark, with the humour for children being spot-on, but enough gags like “real-estate as a birthday present” for the adult audiences, and it really deserves to do more than well in the cinemas with younger audiences; I would just re-state the case that even if your children don’t know the characters & plots, they will still get a blast from this real iconic slice of American life.
GS Rating: 5/5
GS Reporter: SilverFox