It was 50 years ago when A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted on network television and whenever Hollywood takes one of your favorite childhood memories and adapts it to the big screen you can almost feel that jolt of fear rush down peoples’ spines. Adaptations like Yogi Bear, The Smurfs, The Flintstones in Las Vegas and most recently, Jem, all serve as perfect examples of childhood icons being ruined. You have every right to be afraid but let me squash those fears now. The Peanuts Movie is both a faithful and adorable adaptation which is perfect for even the youngest members of the family to see.
I won’t lie to you, the animation for the movie definitely crept me out when I first saw it. These characters look nothing at all like what I watched during all the major holidays. But every character this old has gone through different iterations. Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang are just as iconic as Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse and not even the rabbit and the mouse look the same as they did 50 years ago. The same thing happens here as Chuck goes 3-D. And while these character look a little creepy in the short advertisements as soon as the movie begins you quickly adapt to their new look. Except for the eyes. Their small beady eyes are always creepy.
The movie opens up with all your favorite characters and Sally skating on the pond while Charlie Brown simultaneously tries to get his kite to fly. It is clear director Steve Martino has no problem reusing all of the best Charlie Brown moments to tell his story which he does quite a few times. Somehow it doesn’t feel like lazy storytelling, it feels more like seeing a concert with the band playing all your favorite songs. Parents will delight at the recognition of familiar jokes being played out on the big screen. Kids will laugh at the silly antics of Snoopy and Charlie Brown.
A nostalgic and sweetly made adaption you will be glad to take the kids to (Courtesy of EPK.tv)
The movie basically has two parallel story lines: Charlie Brown’s attempting to impress to the Little Red Headed Girl and Ace’s battle with The Red Baron. Each story is broken up into smaller chapters that are easy for smaller members of the audience to digest. Despite being a crisp 90 minute movie the story still drags a bit and could have benefited from cutting out one of Chuck’s vignettes.
By no means is The Peanuts Movie an instant classic. It serves more as a reintroduction to children who recognize the toys they play with but may not have seen all their stories. Even with a 2015 retelling the story holds true to the characters. None of the kids have cell phones; they’re not inside playing video games; there is no snark or sarcasm, the story remains a look inside the innocence and confusion of childhood. There is a lot to like in the movie but what I enjoyed most was walking out of the theater and kids explaining to their parents what they just saw and the smiles on their faces. B
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