The Peanuts Movie

THE PEANUTS MOVIE. US, 2015.  Voices of: Noah Schnapp, Noah Johnston, Bill Melendez, Alexander Garfin, Mariel Sheets, Hadley Belle Miller. Directed by Steve Martino. 88 minutes.  Rated G.

The full title of this film is Charlie Brown and Snoopy, The Peanuts Movie. It was released at the time of the 65th anniversary of the first publication of Charles Schutz’s celebrated comic strip.

The Peanuts comic strip has had quite an impact over the decades, the strips being published all over the world, and, in the 1970s, two animated film released, Snoopy Come Home (1972) and Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977). Charles Schultz’s son and grandson are responsible for this new film.

Writer and speaker, Robert L. Short wrote in the 1970s about the impact of these comic strips and their message in a book, The Gospel according to Peanuts.

For those who know the comic strips, they will welcome all the characters, plus a new one or two, who look very familiar, speak in a familiar way, go through situations which the audience expects of them.

Poor Charlie Brown has to live through so many episodes where he sees himself as a failure, involved in the number of accidents, trying to fly a kite yet tangled in the leads, doing his best at school and then finding out that it is not enough, going up and down in popularity with the other children. Lucy is there are continually criticising him. On the other hand, Schroeder (who is seen playing the piano and the melody of the 20th Century Fox logo at the opening) is a friend and offers sound advice. Linus, with his blanket, is encouraging and also offering Charlie Brown good advice.

Of course, there is Snoopy, always around, lying on the top of his kennel, finding a typewriter, typing his book with the visualisation of his exploits in World War I against the red Baron and rescuing the canine femme fatale, Fifi. He is also an encouragement for Charlie Brown.

The film opens in winter and the children at school, goes through the school year and finishes on the last day of school.

Most significant is the new girl at the school, the redheaded girl, who seems not to know that Charlie Brown exists but with whom he is entranced. They work together but, once again, it collapses in some failure. However, there is happy ending, Charlie Brown wanting to declare himself, especially when the red-headed girl chooses him as a penpal for when she goes away to camp. He hurries to the bus, trips, hits a tree, a kite falls out, he hangs on and is lifted right to the bus to hear the girl’s wise words to him, about being himself.

Audiences will identify with Charlie Brown’s self-deprecation but would feel the lift to become more confident and embrace life.

Fox.  Released January 1st.

Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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