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?
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 characters’ 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 movie, 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.