From the mind of Charles M. Shulz comes.... The Peanuts Movie. It's been a while since we last saw Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) and his dog Snoopy (Bill Melendez) on the big screen (or TV screen), but now they're back and better than ever, starring in their first 3D animated movie, and boy is it a crowd pleaser. Didn't grow up with Peanuts? Don't worry, neither did I, and I can tell you that this movie manages to stand on its own. In fact, it can stand with ease.
The film, like the comic strips it's based off of, follows the adventures of Charlie Brown. He's a clumsy young child trying to make his way in the world, despite messing up practically everything he does. He's close with his dog, Snoopy, who aids him through life and allows Charlie Brown to find the courage he always seems to be missing. Soon, however, a little red-haired girl (Francesca Capaldi) moves in across the road, and it doesn't take long for Charlie Brown to develop feelings for her. Romantic feelings, that is. While he attempts to plan ways of admitting his love for her (most of which end up with Charlie Brown cowering for safety and avoiding her entirely), Snoopy is off in the clouds, in search of his nemesis, Red Barron, who's at large once again. It's a simple movie that I made sound very complex. Do not fear, this is a Peanuts movie through and through, full of familiar faces. If you're a fan, you're going to love it. If you're not a fan, you soon will be.
From start to finish, The Peanuts Movie is an utter delight. Right from the opening sketch being drawn on screen, this film just pulls you into Shulz's imagination. This is his world and these characters play by his rules. It's visual comedy galore as Charlie Brown is taken on his adventure of love, all while trying to fit in with his fellow classmates and be accepted. There's dialogue, but it's mostly used for exposition, rather than for the purposes of a joke. Some of the characters don't even speak a word of english and their stories work just as well as the ones with dialogue.
While the story is told well, it's also the animation that's rather stunning. The Peanuts comics are 2D and hand drawn, and while this is a 3D animated film, every frame looks like it's been designed by hand. The artistry and design of these characters and the locations they're in is masterful. The thing is, since the filmmakers are going for that comic strip look, they will occasionally try out different things that they never follow through with. There's just a couple of moments where the sound effects appear as words on screen, but since the rest of the film doesn't do this as well, the words feel really out of place.
In terms of plot, this film is about as predictable as they come. The final outcome is inevitable. The characters are going to end up in the exact place you expect them to. But you see, I just don't care about that. It's The Peanuts Movie. There's not going to be a complex and thematically deep plot. It's fun, simple and warmed my heart, and I'm sure children will get a thing or two out of it as well. It's adorable and sweet and no matter what issues it has, it's still a lot of fun and it's very, very cute.
To sum up, The Peanuts Movie is a sweet, touching and funny movie that's no masterpiece, but it's an utter delight from start to finish. The animation is stunning, the humour works exceptionally well and the story is so simple that it's brilliant.
3 1/2 Stars