“Charlie Brown is not a quitter,” says Charlie Brown (voiced by Noah Schnapp) out loud to himself as he tries to perfect his pitching in an effort to better himself to impress the little red-haired girl who just moved in across the street in the animated film The Peanuts Movie.
When the little red-haired girl moves in, Charlie Brown finds himself smitten and wants to make a good impression so he sets out to try to improve himself with the help of his loyal and trusty dog, Snoopy (whines, howls, laughs and whimpers by Bill Melendez). Charlie seeks out the advice of his opinionated local practicing-without-a-license psychiatrist Lucy (voiced by Hadley Belle Miller) who gives him a book on how to make yourself a winner.
Sadly, still lacking any confidence, Charlie Brown just can’t seem to find the courage to go over and talk to the little red-haired girl even when his old pal Snoopy pushes him up to her front door and rings the doorbell. Charlie panics and hides in one of the shrubs by the house when the girl answers the door. As Charlie Brown struggles to find ways to impress the little red-haired girl so that she’ll like him, Snoopy – inspired by Charlie’s determination to win the little red-haired girl’s heart – toys with an old typewriter, beginning to write an epic tale of himself as a famous WWI flying ace taking to the skies to pursue his arc-nemesis, The Red Baron, who has captured the flying ace’s true love.
Charming, funny, and sweet, The Peanuts Movie brings the classic Charles M. Schulz characters to the big screen keeping intact the personalities of all the characters and the gentle humor of the classic comic strip. All the classic themes and adventures are included, with Charlie Brown trying to fly a kite only to lose it to the menacing kite-eating tree, the trying to kick the football, and of course Snoopy fighting the Red Baron via his imagination.
Blue Sky Studios who did the Ice Age films stays with the staples in making the films by using child voice actors to bring the classic characters to life. All of them do a great job, especially Noah Schnapp as Charlie Brown, Alexander Garfin as Linus, Hadley Belle Miller as Lucy, Rebecca Bloom as Marcie, and Mariel Sheets as Sally. In a brilliant and respectful move, the studio uses stock sound of the late Bill Melendez – who produced, directed and also animated most of the Peanuts specials. Melendez was the voice and sound of Snoopy and Woodstock, which had been kept an industry secret for years. This keeps Snoopy and Woodstock sounding exactly as they always have in every Peanuts animated special.
The film also has a wonderful message for kids about never giving up and believing in yourself. It also captures the true spirit of the boy who despite trying his hardest just can’t seem to ever win. One great scene which shows this is during the talent show when no one is doing very well and Charlie Brown is sure to win with his magic act. When his little sister Sally starts to bomb and begins to cry on stage, Charlie, along with his trusted Beagle helps her wow the crowd with her grand finale while giving up another opportunity to impress the little red-haired girl.
The Peanuts Movie, while not introducing anything new, brings back the magic that IS Peanuts and is an above average addition to the franchise. The film is a perfect way for children who haven’t grown up with Charlie Brown and the gang to be introduced to them and also perfect for adults who did and want to go back and relive part of their childhoods. It’s a must-see for any age and one of this year’s best films.
Directed By: Steve Martino
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 93 minutes