Friday, April 8, 2016

"The Peanuts Movie" (2015)

As a child of the seventies and eighties, it was a given that I would love The Peanuts Movie. As long as they didn’t change it too much or stray too far from the Schultz vision. The truth is that they did change a few things, but that only endeared it more to me.

In all the strips and the specials, Charlie Brown was the eternal loser. Somehow we all knew (from personal experience no doubt) that this wasn’t exactly true. It was just the way he perceived things. We all have a tendency to focus on the negative from time to time. Especially when we are young. Schultz either trusted his readers to understand this, or else he embraced the exaggeration.

In this new interpretation, that is the focus of the story. The Little Red-haired Girl has moved into town and Charlie Brown is in love. To win her heart he has been told he must show himself to not be a loser. But of course every attempt to make a good impression backfires.

As a kid I really zeroed in on Snoopy. To me Peanuts was always called “Snoopy.” That is where the joy was found in the stories. Charlie Brown was such a downer, but Snoopy embraced a complete joy in a lack of concern for what anyone else thinks. He is cool because he gives no thought to what anyone thinks.

Snoopy is used here to framework the plot of the film, and to provide commentary to Charlie Brown’s efforts throughout the film. His imaginative story of the World War I flying Ace is its usual fun, but also explores and explains the feelings and struggles Charlie Brown is going through. But the biggest change that I saw with Snoopy, and enjoyed, was a warmth and concern from Snoopy for Charlie Brown.

Then we get to the end of the film. And here is where we see something that Schultz never gave us. Not a bittersweet lesson learned, but an uplifting one. It may not be 100% classic Peanuts, but it elevated this film right into one of my favorites of 2015.

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