As a newspaper journalist, it’s a bit alarming to know that a substantial number of readers pick up the paper only for the comics.
So when a modern movie version of the “Peanuts” franchise — one of the most beloved comic strips of all time — comes along, there’s a glimmer of hope that fans will flock to see the film. Like the feeling you get every time you watch lovable loser Charlie Brown attempt to kick that football.
In fact, The Peanuts Movie revolves around the insecurity of the bald-headed protagonist who is always trying and always seems to fail, miserably. This time, Charlie Brown sets his sights on the Holy Grail of Peanuts lore: the Little Red-Haired Girl.
The story line shifts from Charlie Brown’s obsession with TLRHG and Snoopy’s expansive imagination as the World War I flying ace in search of his French love, Fifi, as he battles the evil Red Baron. Some of the transitions between the two story lines are a bit choppy. Still, even my 5-year-old was captivated with Snoopy’s escapades.
Charlie Brown’s attempts to win his girl’s heart are sweet and sad because you know it never really works out for him. This is what turned me off on all of those holiday television shows (It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown) — the losers never prospered but there’s always that glimmer of hope, just like that darn football.
One of the best qualities about this film is that there was insight into the emotional, endearing side of Charlie Brown. Even though he gets grief from his so-called friends, he manages to smile.
The Peanuts Movie has all of the elements a true fan would want — the original characters, a nod to past TV specials, even a jazzed-up “wahwah,” and you’ll want to stay through the end of the credits — but like its stalwart hero, it falls just short of completing the task at hand. Plus, Blue Sky Films’ (Ice Age, Rio) visuals don’t stack up to its previous films, nor did they warrant a 3-D adaptation.
In the end, the film is not great. It’s just good, Charlie Brown.
The Peanuts Movie
Director: Steve Martino
Running time: 93 min.