Watching THE PEANUTS MOVIE (2015)

ThePeanutsMovieWe watched this on Amazon Prime last night and enjoyed it. From stills I’d seen I thought the digital animation might bother me, but it worked okay for the most part. There are some disconnects between the very Schulz-like black lines on the faces and the more sculpted body shapes and hair. Occasionally I found myself looking at that rather than enjoying the story, particularly when things went a bit weird, as in one scene where Schroeder’s eyebrows went over his hair, but mostly I got used to the look pretty quickly and I feel it does capture the Schulz characters at least as well as the old hand-drawn animated features on TV. The digital animation gets into some very detailed backgrounds and landscapes at times that seem too three dimensional and precise, as when Snoopy in his flying doghouse is dogfighting with the Red Baron over Paris, but in all it was visually fun.

The story is well done, a collection of short episodes and gags combined into scenes of varying lengths, but none longer than about five minutes, I think. This helps preserve the flavor of the original comic strip more than some of the later TV cartoons, and much like the original “Charlie Brown Christmas” one. There is some development to the story as it goes along as well, but it’s light enough to work in this format. There are changes from the strip that make sense in a movie, such as having Peppermint Patty and Marcie in the same school and class as Charlie Brown and his gang. And there are two major plot elements that are new or carried much further than the strip, depending on how you look at it: love interests for Snoopy (a female pilot) and Charlie Brown (the little red-haired girl). I found both charming and in a way kind of satisfying.

Charlie Brown and Snoopy get the most screen time. Many of the regulars are here, but Linus gets less screen time than you might expect compared to his large role in the strip, and Lucy is also somewhat sidelined. In all, it was fun and well worth watching right through to the end credits. And Charles Schulz’s line drawings of the characters do make appearances at times throughout, just to remind the viewer of where this all came from, a nice touch.

Recommended.

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