The Peanuts Movie (2015)
Directed by Steve Martino
Based on characters created by Charles M. Schulz
Screenplay by Bryan Schulz, Craig Schulz, Cornelius Uliano
Starring: Noah Schnapp, Alexander Garfin, Rebecca Bloom, Bill Melendez
Charlie Brown is just searching for a way to reinvent himself. With a familiar bunch of friends around him, Charlie Brown might just succeed. Meanwhile, Snoopy is taking on his arch-nemesis in an epic battle.
When I think of the Peanuts characters I’m immediately reminded of the Sunday paper. As a kid the Peanuts comic strip was one of my favorites. So when the film was announced I was immediately concerned that this might damage Charles M. Schulz’s legacy. The movie was based on his characters, and written by Bryan Schulz (Supercross), Craig Schulz (True Blood), and Cornelius Uliano (The Lonely Drive). Some of the voice work was done by Noah Schnapp (Bridge of Spies), Alexander Garfin, Rebecca Bloom (Lights Out!), and Bill Melendez (A Charlie Brown Christmas).
Craig Schulz (Charles’ son) and Bryan Schulz (Charles’ grandson) were committed to keeping the integrity of the classic characters in this film. They enlisted Uliano to help them achieve their vision. The result is a story that feels like one of the many classic Peanuts television specials in spirit. While the animation is more modern, the story is not of this era. Truthfully, the success of this is the fact that there really isn’t any era assigned to the film. Instead, the story focuses on the characters, each of whom has so many fun and unique characteristics. The writing is wonderfully funny and sentimental. Throughout the movie there are moments that feel like they were pulled directly from the comic strip. This is a wonderful story that does everything right with a classic franchise.
The voices chosen for this movie all fit the characters perfectly. Having grown up with the television specials, this was a great aspect of the film. It’s like the old characters came back to life without anything changing. The voice work helps to keep the comedy going, as well as the heart in the story.
The old style of animation was abandoned for a new approach, but not before the originals were studied carefully. Director Steve Martino spent time with the animators making sure that the hand-drawn style would translate nicely into the CGI work on this movie. He also made sure to obtain the rights to the music and sound from the earlier specials. From all of this hard work we get Lucy’s booth, the pond, and all the other wonderful locations that audiences have grown to love over the years. Like the story and the voices, this one doesn’t seem to miss on anything it attempts. Instead, this is a wonderful tribute to a classic comic strip.
This is a wonderful movie that really feels like it belongs alongside the classic Peanuts episodes and the comic strip. For fans of the characters, this is a must-see movie that will delight. For new audiences there is nothing needed to jump right in. Without having a better way to express it, this one just works. It’s also wonderful to have a movie that the whole family will enjoy. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars.