During the time of year when re-runs of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts holiday shows routinely dance across our television screens, 20th Century Fox is releasing a feature length Peanuts film called, The Peanuts Movie.
The nostalgia for Peanuts kicks in the second you hear those recognizable piano chords and the iconic image of Snoopy laying atop his red dog house. Charlie Brown and his pals are up to their usual high jinks – it’s a snow day at school and everyone is skating, while Charlie Brown wants to fly a kite.
Peanuts develops form there, but unfortunately never establishes a plot. The 88 minute film is a mishmash of Peanuts episodes. There’s common thread between the vignettes that includes Charlie Brown’s crush on The Little Red-Haired Girl who recently moved into the neighborhood, while old pals like The Red Baron and Fifi (Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown) make appearances.
Taking a trip down memory lane is great – the music, the voices, and familiar faces, but the nostalgic feeling wears off rather quickly. Afterwards, the movie shows a lack of creativity and morphs into a mediocre re-imaging of tales fans have seen before.
Peanuts should be a beautiful blend of old and new. It’s not. It’s old and stale. The only “new” is the decision to swap the Peanuts signature animation with unnecessary 3D.
What this movie’s missing is that “it” that Schulz had. I don’t know if there’s even a word for it. But it’s the same “it” that makes It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown fun to watch every year. Or laughing every year when Charlie Brown unveils his tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Peanuts never connects emotionally the way Schulz’s specials did. There are elements of this film that are connected to the emotional highs from childhood, but those highs never come. The only emotion it leaves you with is disappointment. Make no mistake, Peanuts is a well put together film, but it’s apparent the film is missing the heart and soul Schulz brought to his projects. Maybe Schulz is the only one who had that “it” factor. Or maybe we’re just growing up.