The Peanuts Gang have been pop culture icons for decades. Generations of children have grown up with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, and the quiet, quirky suburbia they inhabit. The creators of “The Peanuts Movie” are well aware of that fact. For this film, the creators took the time-tested approach of, “why mess with perfection?” While it is by no means perfect, “The Peanuts Movie” is a refreshing throwback, and a great film for the whole family.
The Peanuts Movie doesn’t really have a straightforward narrative. The only connective tissue throughout the film is Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp), doing his best to get The Little Red-Haired Girl (Francesca Capaldi) to notice him. The film has several plot threads, including: flying a kite, a school dance, test scores, and a book report. However, none of them really have anything to do with one another, beside Charlie Brown’s crush on The Little Red Hared Girl. There’s also a subplot involving Snoopy and Woodstock, as they try to save Fifi (a female poodle/beagle), from The Red Baron, which—though lots of fun—also has no connection to anything that happens in the rest of the movie. The test score story line has the most screen time, but even that subplot is no more or less consequential than anything else in the movie.
Despite not having a more typical three-act structure, the film stills flows well, and the pacing is relaxed without being dull. The movie feels a lot like reading the comic strip: there might be a connective thread from week to week, but it’s mostly just a bunch of small, easy to digest vignettes. Since those vignettes are individually charming and fun, the film doesn’t need a straightforward plot.
The main selling-point of The Peanuts has always been the great characters. Charlie Brown, Linus (Alexander Garfin), Lucy (Hadley Belle Miller), Sally (Mariel Sheets), and the rest of the gang, are all so memorable and likable. As long as the film stays true to the characters, that’s all the entertainment value required. Fortunately, “The Peanuts Movie” gives each of the classic characters a chance to shine. Charlie Brown is the same lovable loser he’s always been. Likewise, Lucy is as gleefully malicious, Linus as thoughtful, Sally as precocious, and Snoopy as mischievous, as generations of fans remember them to be. All the great humor and fun in the movie stems from the great characters. If you’re looking for a movie experience where you’re grinning for almost the whole film, “The Peanuts Movie” is a must-see.
As great as this movie is, it may be too faithful to the source material for its own good. The original cartoons and comic strip, while timeless, had a certain sense of style and pacing that just feels quaint nowadays. The only moments of any dramatic tension or excitement in the film are in the Snoopy daydream sequences, which are so unlike the rest of the movie that it’s almost jarring. What little plot the film has seems predictable when compared to modern films.
However, none of those gripes can make up for the fact that “The Peanuts Movie” is just a blast to watch. The film has a sense of humor and innocent charm that can only be described as timeless.
The filmmakers tried to replicate the childlike wonder of the original strip, and they succeeded beautifully.