The Peanuts Movie (20th Century Fox, 2015)
Like every kid that grew up in the '70s and '80s, I read the Peanuts strip in the newspaper and watched the animated specials on television. These characters were a beloved part of my childhood that I have been happy to share with my children. Heck, my obsession with buying collected editions of comic books can be directly linked to those old Peanuts paperbacks which reprinted the strips. I used to check those out of the library all of the time.
While the appearance of the characters has been slightly updated with a subtle CGI animation style, the integrity of the animated specials has been maintained in terms of pacing and scene changes. This was fine by me. My kids thought that this movie was “okay”, and that's my take on it, too. It didn't suck, but was it a story worthy of a big budget animated feature? No.
The why of that “No” is simple. The story is simply too thin. There are three narratives woven together here. The first is Charlie Brown's crush on the new neighbor who moved in across the street, The Little Red-Haired Girl. The second is the Snoopy/ Red Barron plot. The third is Charlie Brown's insecurities and his desire to be accepted by his peers for who he is. These three thin plotlines are padded out by an assortment of classic strip gags brought to life on the big screen. Do you remember the trailer for The Terrence And Philip film from South Park Movie: Bigger, Longer, And Uncut, where it states “contains 53% new material”? That is exactly how this movie felt. Of course a nostalgia trip like this warrants the familiar and the comfortable, but there was nothing new. This felt like a greatest hits. This wasn't a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, however. There is nothing in it that will offend anyone except for a few rants that I read online that the cast was not “diverse enough”, whatever that is supposed to mean. They are characters from a newspaper strip. If characters from a newspaper strip make you feel marginalized or offended then you are emotionally unstable.
The characterization is 100% faithful to the source material. The pacing and the edits adhere to the standards set in the original animated specials. The camera angle changes seem slow when compared to the ADD nanosecond camera angle changes found in today's CGI animated feature films. The makers of the film resisted the urge to update the characters and make them “edgy” or “now”. They also resisted inserting Baby Boomer friendly Classic Rock into the school dance, something that every Dreamworks animated feature does to win favor with people. Lastly, they also resisted product placement. This was an enjoyable enough family film.
Rant time! Moviegoing etiquette is dead and gone. There must have been a short bus field trip to the theatre on Sunday morning when I saw this. There were maybe two dozen people there, and this couple of women and their small child decide to sit right next to my family, making my daughter uncomfortable enough to get up and move to the other side of us. This should have alerted me to move before the movie even began, but no.
The film starts, and now it is time for them to talk. Did you know that movies are interactive experiences with call and response audience participation? Neither did I, but their idiot kid kept parroting whatever was said on the screen while the idiot women were laughing and encouraging this moronic behavior. Best of all, they took a picture of their kid...during the film...WITH THE FLASH ON. It is sad that there are people in this world that cannot have kids while these genetic misfits were able to breed. These people are seriously detrimental to the gene pool and lower mankind's chance for survival in the event of a catastrophe. Their complete lack of etiquette, lack of consideration for their fellow moviegoers, and utter lack of social skills make me sad that oxygen is wasted on lifeforms like this, and are a great example of why people don't go out to movies like they used to. Why would anyone leave their house and spend money only to be annoyed by morons like this?
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3 out of 5.