The Peanuts Movie is kind of perfect. The Peanuts as a concept have changed a lot over the years. Originally they were cartoons about mental illness, then they became holiday staples until somewhat fading before being adopted as various corporate mascots over the years.
So how do you make a peanuts movie that feels like the peanuts. By simply respecting the individual characteristics of Charlie, Linus, Sally, Pig Pen, Patty, etc. Oh and you make Snoopy the most entertaining character. What I loved most is it just felt like the Peanuts or at least my vaguest memory of the Peanuts.
It felt like watching that friend who has always been struggling with depression finally get a leg up and have a chance to be normal. In no way is Charlie not the chronically depressed character, we know and love. Charlie always tried despite his failings in the past. This is him finally making a difference.
What really makes this movie, is it has just the right amount of sweet but only when it needs to be. Brutally funny for a movie aimed at young children. The closest comparison I could make is The Simpsons Movie. So many references are made to the past and they are used right every time.
Everything we all know gets a reference. I’m sure somewhere along the line a reference was made to Bon Voyage Charlie Brown I bet true peanuts geeks saw thing I never would. Oh and yes they Flying Ace returns. The fact that Snoopy wants to be a WWI pilot is still absurd and random as ever. However, in the context of the movie The Flying ace is used as a foil for Charlie Brown and his crush on The Little Redhead Girl. It’s done expertly, every emotional beat lands and it’s Clearly representative of Snoopy feeling Charlie’s pain.
What makes it great is you feel the love between Charlie and Snoopy. Snoopy could easily be a bully, but he’s really Charlie’s source of tough love and affection. It is a movie smart enough to not make Sally a villain or make Linus an exposition box.
Also, I loved the animation style. The whimsical feeling, I always got from the Peanuts was there in this new 3D version of the characters. It felt so right when the music started and you saw these figures we all know moving in flat 3D space. What makes it spectacular is they move like the classic characters. The animators clearly kept themselves limited the way classic peanuts animators did. It’s a movie that plays on the heartstring no matter the age and uses it’s past correctly.