The Peanuts Movie is a 2015 animated family film directed by Steve Martino and it is the first Peanuts movie in 35 years. It has its flaws, but it is nevertheless a terrific film.
Charlie Brown is again incapable of doing anything right. But when a new girl arrives in town, he instantly gets a crush on her and vows to impress her with mixed results. The story itself is familiar, but that is not bad for this movie. Quite the opposite. It becomes relatable because it depicts real-life troubles of a young boy and it is honest and truthful as always in its approach. But it is also not as clichéd as some would say because it changes some things. Ys, it does stick to the typical Peanuts formula, but that is a good thing as that formula is so fantastic in the first place. But it does introduce a quest for girl, a pretty happy ending and there was a time in this movie when Charlie Brown is popular which is also an interesting approach, but done with care and still not betraying the formula which I appreciated a lot.
The characters here are superb naturally. The plethora of characters is so charming and they are all instantly likable. Charlie Brown is as phenomenal as ever and you really feel and root for the guy. He is so grounded and so sympathetic that you can’t help but love him. Snoopy is just spectacular and so incredibly funny. But their relationship is so sweet and so powerful and is one of the highlights of the flick. It shows how wonderful a bond between a child and his dog can be and I loved how Snoopy cared for him and helped him all the time, but was still messing with him at other times.
Lucy is fantastic. She just might be my favorite character from this cast and she did not disappoint this time as well. Quite the contrary as she got such a big running time and the time when Charlie was popular provided many hilarious moments with her coping with that new development. She is so funny and such a unique and different character and easily the best female character here. I liked the Little Red-Haired Girl and although she did not get much development, that was not necessary as Charlie should always be the focus. Sally is absolutely hilarious and so damn likable. The scenes in which she tries to make a profit out of her brother’s sudden popularity are just hysterical to behold and she made me laugh out loud. Pig-Pen also got some funny moments, but Fifi isn’t as good unfortunately. She is a good companion for Snoopy, but they still did not develop her as much and she wasn’t as likable as the others were. And the evident lack of Linus in this movie is very unfortunate. But overall the characters are superb and very well realized.
The humor is fantastic with many hilarious moments, but Lucy, Snoopy and Sally in particular are all superb and they all provide different kinds of humor and add something new to the table. As for the dialogue, it is phenomenal of course and although it isn’t as brave or as quotable and sophisticated as 1969’s ‘A Boy Named Charlie Brown’ which is also a much better film without a doubt, The Peanuts Movie still has such a heartwarming conclusion that just made me so happy and I was even on the verge of crying at how sweet and simply beautiful it was. It is happier than before and ends well, but I still liked that about it as the character of Charlie Brown still remains the same and that wonderful ending did not betray the source material, but only added the charm and beauty to it. The whole movie is so immensely charming and adorable. This is the kind of family films that Hollywood should make much more often.
The Peanuts Movie quite probably has the best animation of all animated films released in 2015 and even of the decade thus far. It is that good! This is the first time that they did something different with CGI animation and it does look different and new and thankfully so refreshing. The 3D was really good and it is worth seeing it in theatres, there is no doubt about it. It does give you a window-like opportunity to see this world. But the characters are done in 2D which creates a 2.5D quality to the movie which was so interesting and authentic to behold. It is definitely an experiment done right. Yes, there are more details here, particularly in some hair, clothing and in natural landscapes, but the characters overall look simplistic and the world itself is so cozy and just wonderful to get lost in for an hour and a half. It is so mesmerizing to behold. The character design is splendid and the world is so colorful and done with a happy and innocent tone to it. But the details with the eyebrows and for example the text balloons are so innovative and from time to time it does seem that you are watching a comic strip unfold right in front of your eyes. I still would have liked to see this movie traditionally animated, but it worked like this as well and in spades as it is one of the best CGI animated works I have ever seen!
The Peanuts Movie does have a couple of problems which is why it is much inferior to the original. Some characters did not get proper development or screen time and the running time is too long for such a simple story. But the biggest problem have to be the Red Baron sequences. Yes, they are sweet and charming as is the whole flick and they do have some exquisite animation and action to boost, but those do not feature Snoopy’s best moments when comedy is concerned and they are definitely prolonged. I would not call them filler as they mash well into the plot and are a nice parallel to Charlie Brown’s actions, but those scenes still take too much running time and it would have been a better movie had those been reduced a bit.
But the imagery is splendid and the direction from Steve Martino is really good and professional. The message is of course phenomenal as is the dialogue and its honest approach and characterizations. The emotional intensity is evident as it is so heartwarming and the voice cast did a splendid job. The movie is also really well paced and the score is also really good. It does have some unfortunate modern detours, but the soundtrack is mostly classic in style which is so refreshing to hear. The whole film is like that – it has some devices which nobody uses anymore, the score is traditional as are the beautiful sound effects and exquisite animation. Everything in here is so classic and traditional which is why it is a timeless work that will endure for centuries to come.
The Peanuts Movie does have some flaws including a bit bloated running time and the much prolonged Red Baron sequences, but it is overall a superb film filled with immensely charming and likable characters, a heartwarming and even tear-inducing finale, excellent score, sweet plot and a simplistic and simply breathtaking animation with superb character design and innovative 2.5D quality to it. It is one of the best animated films of the year and it just might have the best computer animation I’ve ever seen.