Film Challenge 3: THE PEANUTS MOVIE (2015)

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Promo materials for The Peanuts Movie bill Violet as being “the original Mean Girl,” and I think that’s brilliant. As an aside, I’d like to apologize for how dark this blog has gotten over the past few weeks. So many heavy emotions. But never fear, my dear dilettantes- I’m making a point of staying optimistic and being hopeful for the future. With any luck, you won’t be seeing any cathartic poems on here for a while.

But back to that round-headed kid and his friends. If I’m correct, The Peanuts Movie represents the first major Hollywood adaptation of Charles Schultz’s comic strip since its debut in the 60s. What I liked most about the movie was that the filmmakers CLEARLY had a true love and respect for the source material. They included nods to Schultz’s comic and the old TV specials wherever they could. In addition, a friend of mine told me that his son played a major role in the film’s production, which probably helped with this!

The plot is fairly simple: Charlie Brown is trying to win the heart of the new kid in school, known only as “The Little Red-Haired Girl.” (I was hoping they’d use her given name, Heather, at some point.) Along the way, he goes on misadventures with his friends and learns some valuable lessons. A sub-plot of the movie surrounds his beagle, Snoopy, writing a book about the World War I Flying Ace; actually, the line between Snoopy’s novel and reality gets quite blurred.

All your favorite characters are here including lesser-known ones like Frieda and Franklin. In keeping with the spirit of the piece, they purposely cast voice actors that sounded very similar to the folks from the original TV specials. For Snoopy, they even used old sound bytes of Bill Melendez, who voiced man’s best friend way back in the 1970s. The musical score was done by Christophe Beck of Frozen fame, but they also included the original compositions, providing a very nostalgic feel. There’s one great song written just for the film, “Better When I’m Dancing,” sung by Meghan Trainor.

The bottom line? Having grown up with both the comic strip and the holiday programs, I grinned like an idiot for the entirety of The Peanuts Movie. Despite the throwbacks, the piece still managed to feel fresh and funny, taking on a life of its own. I laughed out loud several times, especially for Snoopy and Peppermint Patty…and even got teary-eyed once or twice. I highly recommend this little gem for people looking for wholesome, feel-good entertainment…and for anyone who was once a kid, when flying kites and kicking a football were your biggest problems.

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