Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie

 

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Snoopy and Charlie Brown

 

No doubt three- and four-year-olds will not find this computer-animated addition to the Charles M. Schulz canon too taxing. The last Peanuts movie, Bon Voyage Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!), appeared some 35 years ago, long before CGI. Obviously, adapting a four-picture, pen-drawn comic strip to the big screen is not obstacle-free. Scripted by Bryan Schulz (Charles’s grandson), Craig Schulz (Charles’s son) and Bryan’s collaborator Cornelius Uliano, the film adheres religiously to the spirit of the strip and its timeless innocence does have some appeal. While enormous attention has gone into the background effects of water, hair, leather and wood grain, the seminal characters themselves – Charlie, his beagle Snoopy, Lucy, Schroeder and the avian Woodstock – are rendered in simplistic outline in keeping with the original drawings. It presents an almost surreal effect, particularly as some of the action is augmented by visual pen strokes, with even some sound effects scribbled on the screen. A shock is encountering these beloved, familiar characters with real human voices, an effect almost as disorientating as hearing Winnie the Pooh for the first time (courtesy of Disney). To be fair, the people at Blue Sky Studios go to some lengths to pre-empt any sense of 21st century culture shock. The 20th Century Fox theme tune is accompanied by Schroeder bashing away at his piano and the set-up reassures us that this is very much a home-drawn affair. But the CGI does detract from the charm of the original and there’s a regrettable lack of wit. When Charlie embarks on a writing project, he talks of Catcher of the Pie and a book called Leo’s Toy Store by Warren Peace. This really isn’t good enough – and will be lost on the infant demographic. Perhaps more damning still is the actual premise in which Charlie falls for the new girl in town – ‘the Little Red-Haired Girl’ – based entirely on her looks. He’s head-over-heels in love but too afraid to even talk to her. Surely, we should teach our children to love those with other attributes than just a pretty face and a fine head of ginger locks. 

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Voices of Noah Schnapp, Hadley Belle Miller, Mariel Sheets, Alex Garfin, Kristin Chenoweth. 

 

Dir Steve Martino, Pro Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz, Cornelius Uliano, Paul Feig and Michael J. Travers, Screenplay Bryan Schulz, Craig Schulz and Cornelius Uliano, Ph Renato Falcão, Ed Randy Trager, Music Christophe Beck. 

 

Blue Sky Studios/20th Century Fox Animation/Peanuts Worldwide/Feigco Entertainment-20th Century Fox. 93 mins. USA. 2015. Rel: 21 December 2015. Cert. U.