Sometimes a movie can t exist on nostalgia alone — Jurassic World proved that this summer, aside from being a fantastic adventure in its own right. So you would think that The Peanuts Movie would be an a slam dunk, right? Especially considering how much care goes into animated features these days. Add to that Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz’s son (Craig) and grandson (Bryan) were co-writing the screenplay — along with Cornelius Uliano — we can at least say the spirit of the original comics and TV specials remain intact. Unfortunately, they’ve kept the Peanuts world contained to a G rating — something of a rarity these days — which creates a sense of boredom in a film that plays it a little too safe at times.
We kick off our new adventure during winter. Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) is up to his usual good grief antics of having to pick himself up after all the usual failed attempts at life. Soon, things start to look up for the blockhead when a new Little Red-Haired Girl (Francesca Capaldi) moves in across the street. Now, Chuck has found a reason for living and sets out to do everything he can to win her affection. Meanwhile, after Snoopy (Bill Melendez) is banned from sneaking into school and finds a typewriter in a dumpster, he starts writing the next great novel — with the help of Woodstock of course — about the World War I Flying Ace trying to defeat the Red Baron, trying to win his own true love, Fifi (Kristin Chenoweth).
Director Steve Martino keeps things moving at a mostly frenetic pace — things do seem to slow down in the second act though — and provides a gorgeous landscape for the newly computer-animated characters to live in. It literally feels like you were sucked into the comic strip or TV specials and never worries about trying to razzle dazzle the audience. However, the biggest thing working against the film achieving instant classic status is Martino himself. He’s never made a great movie to begin with — Horton Hears a Who!, Ice Age: Continental Drift — so it makes me curious who thought he was the man for the job. Serviceable is the best word to describe The Peanuts Movie, but it may have a hard time winning over new fans.
The one job the film has is winning over the adults — we are the ones who grew up watching A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown — so I hoped there would be plenty of magic on the first big screen adventure. Unfortunately, there is barely enough story to sustain a 90-minute movie. As fantastic as it was to see the likes of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Woodstock, Marcie, Peppermint Patty, Linus, Schroeder, Sally, and Pig-Pen together again, the Peanuts Movie doesn’t have that instant rewatch factor. Once it’s over, you won’t want to run right back out to buy another ticket. I’m sure kids will think otherwise — and this is way better than this summer’s Minions — but the bar was set mighty high for the year after Inside Out. So for what it is, I guess The Peanuts Movie relying on nostalgia is good enough.