Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie (U) | Close-Up Film Review


Dir. Steve Martino, US, 2015, 93 mins

Cast: Bill Melendez, Noah Schnapp, Hadley Belle-Miller, Rebecca Bloom

The fact that this has had a territorial title change in its journey across the pond, speaks volumes about Charlie Brown and the gang’s appeal outside of America. Confined to the occasional seasonal television special or a three-square comic on the sports pages of a broadsheet newspaper, their cultural impact makes the prospect of a feature length movie something you might not give a Schulz about.

Simplicity was always at the heart of the Peanuts gang, and Martino’s movie doesn’t stray too far from what made the original comics so charming; wry observations, intellectual asides, and a dollop of weirdness that makes these Minnesota residents so unique.

Weaving the imaginary adventures of kennel striding beagle Snoopy, as he battles The Red Baron in order to save his beloved, with the day-to-day travails of the beleaguered, unlucky in life, love, and looks, Charlie Brown, The Peanuts Movie is what South Park was before the world went wrong. Boys being boys, girls being girls, and adults honking incoherently like geese.

In a world in which material is praised for “going darker” or skewing towards adults, this is a bright, unabashedly innocent slice of family entertainment.

The animation isn’t groundbreaking, but the twee rendering of brushstrokes lifted straight from the source, such as Woodstock’s flight movements, or lines above characters heads to emphasise their exasperation, give the film a refreshingly ramshackle look amongst today’s perfection seeking CGI epics.

The story is sweet, immediately relatable on a nostalgic level for the adults, whether they’re familiar with Charlie Brown or not, and for the youngsters, it carries a multitude of moral lessons that aren’t rammed down their throats, just neatly woven into the plot; be nice to your sibling, put others first, honesty is the best policy. And for those not interested in the Schulz schmaltz, then there are plenty of giggles to be had, most notably from Snoopy, whose sinister “shhhhhhh’s” and waking dreams steal the show.

Fans of the material will take great joy in seeing their favourite’s writ large on the big screen, with series oddity Pig-Pen getting something of a makeover, considering he’s always covered in a cloud of dirt, whilst iconic imagery, such as the rain cloud appearing above Charlie Brown’s head, are lovingly recreated here.

And that’s the overriding feeling you get from the film, people who cherish the material they’re working on, creating something that’s dictionary definition “feel-good”, and like Linus’s blanket, it’ll make you feel all warm with happiness when you’re wrapped up in the middle of it.

Review by Matthew Rodgers