Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Peanuts Movie: The Classic Modern Charlie Brown

First off, if you have never read a Peanuts comic strip, I hope that what I have attached above has educated you on the awesomeness that is Charles Schulz's work.  When the news first came out that a CGI-animated Peanuts movie was coming out, I had hardly dared to hope that it would have the same style, humor, and heart that I was used to--both from the comics and from the 2D animated movies.  Thankfully, I did dare.  My nostalgia was more than sufficiently fed with familiar tropes such as Lucy's psychiatric help stand, Snoopy's imagined battle with the Red Baron, and Charlie Brown's struggle with, well, pretty much everything.  As a bonus, there are flashes of the original comic style whenever the characters have a thought bubble and whenever exaggerated 2D lines create the character's expressions.  At the same time, the movie does not entirely follow its predecessors and truly came into its own.  Mild spoilers ahead.

One of my favorite parts involved Charlie Brown's relationship with his dog Snoopy.  Snoopy serves as an encouraging wingman for his owner as he tries to woo the Little Red-Haired Girl, whose face we actually see despite my expectations.  Snoopy's interactions with Charlie Brown are always so sweet, which in the comic strip has not really been the case, and every time I saw them together on screen, I wanted to run over to them and have a group hug.  When he's not helping out Charlie Brown, Snoopy pretends he is in a wild adventure that involves rescuing his true love from the infamous Red Baron.  This leads to several hilarious moments, such as when you remember that instead of inching across a broken bridge over a high drop, he's just hanging from a few Christmas lights in front of Peppermint Patty's house.

Meanwhile, as if I hadn't found Charlie Brown endearing enough already, the movie presents several moments where he chooses to do the right thing rather than take his chance to impress the Little Red-Haired Girl.  When he makes a fool of himself to rescue his sister Sally from embarrassment in the talent show, sacrificing his own magic act, I literally had the "awww" sound on loop in my head for pretty much the rest of the movie.  Of course I don't want to give away all of his moments of glory, but know that he is a precious cinnamon roll and deserves about ten billion kisses.  I really like how Charlie Brown, at his root, is simply a good kid.  It gives me hope for humanity, even if he is just a cartoon.

The movie does not entirely follow the comic strip, but describing that in detail might be going too far into spoiler territory for some of you.  You were warned.  Basically, at its end we see Charlie Brown actually gaining a few victories, which Schulz never wanted to have happen while he was alive.  His reasoning, as I understand it, was that Charlie Brown is supposed to be a character that keeps hoping even though things never go his way.  All the same, I can't help but find it satisfying as well as surprising for the character to at least have a few of his wishes fulfilled.  I don't think it takes away from the spirit of hope Schulz was going for, and with a movie as funny, adorable, and heartening as this one, I would not be surprised to see a Peanuts 2 movie coming in the near future.

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