The Peanuts Movie

Charles Schulz’ Peanuts is a comic strip that I grew up with. Charlie Brown and his trademark shirt, Lucy and her advice stand, Linus and his blanket, Schroeder and his piano, and Snoopy and his doghouse – these images are forever ingrained. I expect most of you had the same experience, as the Peanuts were everywhere, including lunchboxes, greeting cards, TV specials, pajamas and sheet sets, and everything else possible. Snoopy Sno-Cones, anyone?

Snoopy Snow Cone final

Charlie Brown says, “I hope you like red flavour, because otherwise you’re just eating ice cubes!”

The heart of the Peanuts empire was the comic strip, and the love that went into that makes it impossible for me to be too cynical about all the rest of the merchandise that was churned out. Charles Schulz loved these characters and as a result, I loved reading about their little adventures from the day I was old enough to locate the comics in the newspaper index, to the day I moved out of my parents’ house. The Peanuts was a landmark comic strip from start to finish, as Jay wrote about in an excellent piece a few months back.

That was way back on The Peanuts Movie’s opening weekend. It has taken until now for me to get around to watching it, mainly because despite how good it looked visually, I kept hearing that The Peanuts Movie didn’t have the comic strip’s heart. The heart that made the Peanuts so special. And now, having seen The Peanuts Movie for myself, my takeaway was that the Peanuts’ heart stopped beating when when Charles Schulz’s did (RIP).

The Peanuts Movie is not bad. It’s well animated and there’s a basic, tolerable story guiding us through the 80 minute-ish run time. And during those 80 minutes we see and hear lots of things we would expect to find here, like the adults’ trombone voices and the chapeanuts18f-1-webracters’ relationships, like Lucy loving Schroeder and pulling the football away from Charlie Brown. But those are the highlights and it quickly became clear that the best parts of this movie are good mainly because they remind you of the comic strip.

Seeing all these old standbys tied together by a basic plot felt strangely similar to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and my complaint here is the same.  Making me nostalgic is neither enough to make me enjoy your mcharliebown_newtrailerovie, nor enough of a reason to have made the movie in the first place. I would have been better off thumbing through a trade paperback of old strips than watching The Peanuts Movie.

So that’s what I would suggest to you: skip The Peanuts Movie and go straight to the source, Schulz’s old comic strips. Because those strips are pure magic while The Peanuts Movie only scores six zig-zag striped shirts out of ten.snoopy-woodstock-hug-d

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15 thoughts on “The Peanuts Movie

  1. Karen

    Agreed. I was really disappointed with this film, as there is no new story here, and there is just so much potential is these well known and well loved characters, IMO. Any of the television specials is better as far as story goes. The animation is lovely, though.

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  2. filmfunkel

    That’s a fair comparison to The Force Awakens – so much overt cutting-&-pasting (albeit lovingly cut-&-pasted) that the end result – while not bad – is not original.

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  3. Christopher

    It’s hard to imagine any new film being able to bring something new while at the same time doing justice to the more than fifty year history of the strip.
    I wish they’d been braver and tried something more daring, reimagining the characters, perhaps as adults and dealing with their childhood problems in adult ways.
    Sort of like this fake trailer for a Calvin & Hobbes film…

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  4. Carrie Rubin

    Given my kids are teenagers now, I don’t see animated films anymore. Well, rarely. But my youngest did finally convince me to go to the new Star Wars movie yesterday. After much cajoling. But I actually enjoyed it. Great characters.

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  5. Wendell

    We came away from this one with similar feelings. The story is OK and the nostalgia factor is high, but it doesn’t do anything else. While I thought it did have the heart of the franchise, that’s all it had. It didn’t do anything to upset anyone, but it didn’t try to thrill us, either.

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  6. ninvoid99

    I had that snow cone machine too? Wow…. I thought about seeing this but I never had the time or money. Plus, I always wondered if Charlie Brown ever kicked Lucy in the face for all of that shit she put him through.

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  7. ruth

    I didn’t grow up watching the Peanuts movie but I am familiar w/ Snoopy and living in MN it’s obviously a big deal here. I actually enjoyed the movie, it’s fun but heartwarming w/ sweet teachable moments. It’s not my fave animated features though, but one I’m glad I checked out.

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  8. Ben

    Completely agree. I think the problem was that it didn’t know who it was aimed at. Peanuts was never really for kids but the animated movie was definitely aimed at that market so we got a mish-mash of classic gags but corny story.

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  9. Amy Reese

    Yeah, I don’t see how it could live up to the comic strip. Maybe the kids of today will at least have a glimmer of its magic and want to read the comic. Haven’t seen it yet either for the same reason you mentioned.

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  10. Steven Lowe

    I am totally confused by your review as I found The Peanuts Movie to be full of heart and soul, and yes I am more than familiar with the original source material. To me it was as if Schultz himself had risen from the grave to give us this special treat. When I heard they were doing this film I was full of nothing but fear and dread but boy was I wrong. Not only was this a faithful adaption but it is easily one of the finest animated movies ever. Also I have to confess you lost me on the whole Star Wars Force Awakens tangent. Can’t help thinking the name of your site couldn’t be more apt 🙂

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    1. Sean Post author

      The Peanuts Movie was a vacuous exercise that was a dull regurgitation of the source material. It is totally forgettable as a result. It is not even close to being the finest animated movie from 2015 let alone “easily one of the finest animated ever” and honestly, six months later the only thing I remember about the movie is that roughly half of it was Snoopy fighting the Red Baron. Contrast that with Inside Out, which I remember vividly. Bing Bong on his own was more memorable than all the Peanuts characters combined.

      Since my reference to the Force Awakens was not clear, let me make it so. Just as the Peanuts movie used nostalgia to cover up the lack of an original story, so did The Force Awakens, which, like the 1977 original (1) starts on a desert planet; (2) revolves around an orphan protagonist who is seemingly drawn into the fray at random, turns out to have latent superpowers, and is helped along by a cute droid who speaks in beeps as those powers are discovered; and (3) the protagonist ends up assisting the rebels in blowing up a world-destroying starbase, using the exact same starship to make the journey from the desert planet to the starbase and being assisted in the task by the exact same two rogue smugglers as in the original movie. Surely there’s a fresh and better story that could have been made for both franchises.

      And I’m glad to be an asshole if it means expecting movies to build upon their source material rather than regurgitating the same things we’ve already seen. Because I do.

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      1. Steven Lowe.

        Well Sean I guess that’s me told then haha, you truly are an asshole so congrats on living up to your potential!!! I totally refute your silly Star Wars comparisons as your argument holds about as much water as a thimble IMO. Oh if you loved Inside Out so much you should prob check out what HEAVILY inspired it Numbskulls. Have a nice day 🙂

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