Let me tell you a secret: I’ve never seen any Peanuts movie or special before. I know that might seem crazy but it’s true. I’m certainly aware of Charles Schulz’s legendary comic strip, its iconic characters, and their personalities, but I’ve never read the comic strips or seen any of the movies. So unlike this writer, I’m not familiar with the half century of materials that came before and will review this movie based solely on its merit (not discounting the materials from the past half century of course). Having said that it's a wonderful trip down memory lane with all of the iconic Peanuts moments and characters present.
The film is split into two parts, the main arch revolves around everyone’s favorite punching bag Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown tries and tries to impress the new kid, the Little Redheaded Girl, over the course of a year. The other is about Snoopy and how he incorporates Charlie’s own experiences into a fantastical story about fighting the Red Baron to rescue a damsel in distress (with plenty of help from Woodstock of course). All the characters that you know and love make appearances. Charlie's year is told through amusing vignettes. These provide Charlie with hardship and misfortune to overcome and try, try, and try again. The story moves fairly quickly as it jumps between Charlie’s attempts to build up courage and confidence, and Snoopy’s attempts at rescue.
The animation is done by Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age) and this is the first time Schulz’s characters have ever been displayed in 3D (HBO). The making of this movie was a painstaking process. Blue Sky worked tirelessly and very closely with the family/estate of Schulz to make sure his beloved characters were not ruined or sullied in any way (HBO). The animators were even put through a Schulz boot camp to ensure faithful representation of Schulz’s original 2D drawings (HBO). For example, when Snoopy is fighting the Red Baron in his vivid imagination, the bottom of his doghouse is never shown. This was a hard rule from the Schulz estate to the animators. In the comic strip it is never shown and the Schulz estate wanted to keep it that way (HBO). Even with this limitation, Snoopy's imaginary tale is daring free flowing adventure. The result is a crisp refined looking 3D animation, which adheres to the strict rules specified by the Schulz estate but never seems overburdening. In fact the movie is an excellent crossover into 3D and looks very much like the classic characters that the world knows and loves.
The film doesn’t do anything new and that’s just fine. It serves as a touching dedication to Schulz and his enduring creation. This film, like Schulz’s past strips and specials, appeals to both children and adults. Children will enjoy it for the fun adventures and animation, and perhaps adults will want to reminisce about the old gang. Even to a newcomer like me, the iconic moments are all there: Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football, the music and the dancing, Snoopy’s Personas, etc. These famous characters bring their relatable and lovable quirks to the silver screen and don’t miss a single beat from Schroeder's memorable piano and their famous song.
TLDR: The Peanuts Movie is a sweet nostalgia trip with all of the iconic characters. While it does nothing new it will entertain both children and adults. (3.5/Five Stars)