Charlie Brown and Snoopy undergo a twenty-first century makeover in this big-screen adaptation of the Schulz classic, proving that whether you’re old or young, there is always room for a tale about a boy and his faithful dog.
For 50 years, Charles M. Schulz wonderfully crafted the story of loveable loser Charlie Brown, his crazy canine companion Snoopy and a whole host of characters in comic strips in the United States of America and across the globe. Now, 15 years after Schulz’s retirement, the Peanuts gang return with Schulz’s son Craig and grandson Bryan taking the creative reins, alongside director Steve Martino (Horton Hears a Who!; Ice Age: Continental Drift) in Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie.
It’s a snow day in Charlie Brown’s (voiced by Noah Schnaap) neighbourhood, which means no school and an opportunity for Charlie to achieve the impossible: to finally fly his kite. He fails, again! But Charlie Brown’s day is about to take a turn for the better as he has a new neighbour, the “Little Red-Haired Girl” (voiced by Francesca Angelucci Capaldi), and it is love at first sight. Well… for Charlie it is, from afar, as he can’t quite pluck up the courage to talk to her. Charlie realises it’s time for a change! With the help of Lucy (voiced by Hadley Belle Miller), Linus (voiced by Alex Garfin) and a case of mistaken identity in the form of a 100% state test with his name on it, Charlie tries to get “Little Red-Haired Girl” to notice him. Meanwhile, Snoopy (voiced by Bill Melendez) is also in love. After discovering a typewriter in the garbage, Snoopy battles against his imagination in the skies as he attempts to rescue a pretty-in-pink hotshot poodle pilot named Fifi from the clutches of his arch nemesis, the dastardly “Red Baron”.
The animation can be summed up in three words: I LOVE IT. The modern computer animation style used throughout the picture is gorgeous. The vibrancy and bright colours mean that every character and scene jumps out of the screen and grabs your attention. Every layer is so textured and realistic. You can see every stitch on Charlie Brown’s couch and every hair on Snoopy’s head. Perhaps the most important part, however, is the slight, yet very significant, inclusion of Schulz’s classic animation tropes. The characters’ facial expressions and motion lines are a great throwback to the roots of Peanuts and offer a wonderful blend of the old and new animation styles.
The characters themselves are great, both in look and sound. Charlie Brown, Linus and Lucy sound as close to their original voice castings as possible, whilst archival footage from the late Bill Melendez gives Snoopy and Woodstock their signature growls and yelps. The story itself is nothing too unpredictable or spectacular but it stays true to the positive, good-natured humour of Peanuts. Charlie Brown still can’t play baseball, Lucy STILL pulls Charlie Brown’s football away and Snoopy’s imagination sequences are still as silly as ever. There isn’t a point in the movie when you aren’t letting out a little giggle or smiling at what is happening on the screen.
Over the past decade, we have become accustomed to various Hollywood remakes and “re-imaginings” of some of our favourite childhood films and characters. Some are great. Some aren’t so great. I’m pleased to say that Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie is part of the former. The film epitomizes all that was great about the comic series and television specials of yesteryear, whilst bringing the franchise up-to-date with a brighter and more colourful look for a younger audience. Growing up I used to love reading over the classic Peanuts strips in my mum’s collection. To this day, I still love reading them and this film only reaffirms my love for Charlie Brown & Co. It’s simple, it’s funny and just like Schulz’s classic comic masterpiece, it never grows old or tiresome.
Good ol’ Charlie Brown!
Rating – 85%
Director – Steve Martino
Cast – Noah Schnapp, Alex Garfin, Hadley Belle Miller, Francesca Angelucci Capaldi and Bill Melendez
Genre – Animation, Comedy
Running Time – 88 Minutes
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