Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie
Noah Schnapp, Bill Menendez, Hadley Belle Miller, Kristin Chenoweth
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Digitally animated, yet with a crisp simplicity, Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie retains the visual minimalism of its massively syndicated newspaper forebear, and its unapologetically sentimental spirit. It also gets the details right: the characters are mostly voiced by real children rather than adult stars, and the old-fashioned jazz soundtrack feels appropriate. But the net result is underwhelming.
The story centres on hapless Charlie Brown’s poignant attempts to win the respect and admiration of his classmates, and the heart of the new kid in class, the unnamed Little Red Haired Girl. If you’re a Peanuts fan, she’s the only major character that you won’t recognise: all the familiar ones are duly present, from Linus (replete with security blanket) to Lucy, dispenser of psychiatric advice and thorn in Charlie Brown’s side. And then, of course, there’s Snoopy, “the world’s most adorable beagle.” The scenes depicting his daydreams of dogfights (no pun intended) with The Red Baron are the most diverting, and by far the fastest-paced. There’s the odd chuckle to be gleaned elsewhere, and there’s something vaguely endearing in the innocence of a cartoon world where a kid can become class hero by supposedly scoring 100% in a test. But the pickings are decidedly slim.
It’s hard to imagine a receptive target audience for this film. Most people will be either far too young or too old, even for nostalgia. There’s nothing crucially wrong with Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie. It’s mercifully “un-modernised” and pretty faithful to Charles M. Schulz’ original comic strip, but it’s also rather flat and not especially funny. And there’s too much padding; it could just as well have been a short rather than feature-length. But most of all, it’s superfluous.