Hot Take: Great movie for kids. Good movie for fans of Peanuts who have wanted to see Charlie Brown and Snoopy’s greatest hits on the big screen after a 35 year hiatus. For everyone else? Eh.
The Peanuts Movie was an incredibly safe big screen take on the Peanuts franchise. As a viewer familiar with the past history of Charlie Brown but not particularly enamored with the characters, it was nice to see a new layer of paint put on the old reliable vehicle but it would have been nice to see it take a few risks. At it’s heart, The Peanuts Movie held true to it’s roots but after 70-plus years, there could have been a few modern updates to the material while keeping the heart in tact.
Many will appreciate the big screen adaptation as it stayed true to the source material. I’m sure I’ll be in the minority when being critical of decisions like not updating Snoopy’s writing utensil as he authors his Red Baron fantasy but when’s the last time anyone has seen a typewriter? (Probably the last time you saw a dog writing a novel.)
Then again, when you’re returning to the big screen after 35 years, (don’t believe this is Charlie Brown’s first attempt at the big screen as there were four feature films before this one) appealing to children and core fans makes complete sense in today’s sequel happy climate. The Peanuts Movie gets three weekends to own the kid’s movie market (until Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur releases on November 25) and by then do you think Chuck and the gang will be asked to return to the big screen in the near future? You can bet on it, Charlie Brown.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Updated Animation
The fresh new coat of paint on a classic is probably the most dangerous risk this update takes and it works well. The Snoopy/Woodstock fantasy vignettes are the biggest leaps and are, at times, trippy. We’re in the mind of an animated dog and his avian sidekick which makes the trippy approach sensible.
- We’re Rooting For You, Charlie Brown
Even if you’re only a little big interested in the big screen tale, Charlie Brown’s insecurities are easy to relate to and, in the end, you’ll find yourself pulling for the lovable grade school baldy to finally have a little success. You can only pull the football away so many times, right?
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Cut and Paste?
There’s not much new happening in The Peanuts Movie. It’s a greatest hits of the Peanuts gang and there’s very little fresh outside of the animation. The effort taken to cram a ton of references to the old TV specials and the comic occasionally feels forced and unnecessary, too. Good grief!
- This Is What Happens When a Franchise Is On the Line
The Peanuts Movie is headed to a $50 million weekend and over $100 million domestically at the box office which covers the $100 million budget. At that point, everything else (including the merchandise and international box office) will be a positive. Even marginal successes find their way back to the big screen again so pencil in Charlie Brown and Snoopy for a 2017 return to the big screen.