Film review: SNOOPY AND CHARLIE BROWN: THE PEANUTS MOVIE, from ‘Built For Speed’

The appeal of the Charlie Brown comic strips and cartoons lies in their clever mix of childhood innocence and adult neurosis and their honest encapsulations of life in suburbia.  Consequently, most of us can relate to Charlie Brown’s life of disappointment and humiliation and see among his friends and nemeses wonderfully accurate depictions of the people we know.

The latest Charlie Brown movie Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie captures most of these qualities for a generally fun and amusing excursion into the life of a primary school basket-case.  A few dull moments, some concessions to post-modern self-awareness and odd looking animation, however, detract from its charm.

The film retraces familiar Peanuts plot lines particularly Charlie’s infatuation with the elusive little red-haired girl who has just joined his class. The story arc isn’t really the main concern here but rather the mini-episodes that draw on familiar and much loved tropes of the Peanuts universe: Charlie Brown’s disastrous kite flying attempts, Lucy dispensing psychiatric advice and sabotaging Charlie’s attempts to kick a football, snoopy wreaking havoc, Schroder hammering out Beethoven on his mini piano to an adoring Lucy, Linus espousing humanist philosophies between nervous breakdowns and adults talking like a wah-wah guitar effect.

With some nice voice work from a group of youngsters the film captures the personality quirks of these lovable characters and delivers insightful humour fans have long enjoyed from the Peanuts. While the sequences depicting the kids’ comical insecurities and oddball personalities are fine, the fantasy diversions where Snoopy imagines himself battling the Red Baron aren’t particularly entertaining and because Snoopy rarely speaks these involve the horrors of mime.

A major problem in this film is its use of a distractingly strange animation style with rubbery looking CGI as opposed to the charming low-tech style of the classic 1960’s and 70’s cartoons. The film also has too many self-referential gags which don’t seem to flow organically from the characters but instead make us too aware of the director and the writers manipulating the Peanuts world.

Despite these nagging issues, Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie is another fun, charming addition to the Peanuts canon and reminds us how much Charles M. Schulz’ beloved creations have influenced the likes of The Simpsons, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and even South Park.

Nick’s rating: ***.

Genre: Animation/ comedy.

Classification: G.

Director(s): Steve Martino.

Release date: 1st January 2016.

Running time: 93 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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