For decades, the Charles Schulz comic strip Peanuts and the many TV specials it begat has inspired generations of children. While Mr. Schulz passed away just a month into the 21st century, his creation gets the 21st century treatment with spruced up 3D animation in The Peanuts Movie, with a script credit that includes one of his children and a grandchild.
The gang is all here, led by the insecure but lovable Charlie Brown and his trusty dog Snoopy. The plot hearkens back to some classic storylines as our yellow and black shirted protagonist is trying to work up the guts to impress the Little Red Haired Girl. Separately, Snoopy (with sidekick Woodstock alongside) pens a tale about being a world famous pilot rescuing his love interest Fifi from the dangerous Red Baron. Schroeder plays the piano, Linus offers sound advice, Lucy continues her love/hate relationship with our hero and dishes out 5 cent advice, and Peppermint Patty continues her supervisory role with dutiful Marcie. Kites and footballs are present.
The upgrade to 3D isn’t completely necessary but it looks just fine. The Christophe Beck score thankfully pays homage to wonderful music of Vince Guaraldi and his work in the holiday specials. There are a couple contemporary pop tunes needlessly present, but it’s not enough to serve as a major distraction.
Charlie Brown’s universal and long standing appeal is simple. We see ourselves in him with the self doubting and hopefully, with his enduring willingness to keep trying. It’s something that Schulz mastered and it is something the makers of this version also understand. Pixar has truly excelled at combining some films that satisfy the hearts and minds of kids and adults alike. While The Peanuts Movie knowingly and successfully taps the nostalgia feels of its older crowd, this isn’t in the same league. The subplot with adorable Snoopy has its moments, but occasionally feels like filler in a pic with a running time of less than 90 minutes. That said, this is a worthy addition in the Peanuts world as we continue to root for Charlie overcoming his obstacles.
*** (out of four)