The news cycle is loud, but we need to hear those who can’t shout
Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip revolves around the hapless but determined Charlie Brown. From 1950 until Schulz’s death in 2000 (the strip continues in reruns), children and adults opened their newspapers each day to the funny pages for a glimpse into Charlie’s ordinary but instructive life. Fans of all ages will appreciate The Peanuts Movie’s faithful reproduction of the look, language, and lessons of America’s Cartoon.
In the movie, Charlie Brown falls in love with the Little Red-Haired Girl, who moves into the house across the street from his. She doesn’t yet know, as all his friends do, that he’s a blockhead. But a kite-eating tree, a test paper mix-up, and Lucy’s 5¢ psychiatric advice foil his efforts to impress the new girl.
Charlie Brown’s insecurities and failures frustrate him but have a different effect on the Little Red-Haired Girl. Although his bids to woo her—even just to talk to her—fall apart, she notices he still conducts himself with compassion, honesty, and bravery.
The G-rated Peanuts Movie is not action-packed or laugh-out-loud funny, but Schulz’s son and grandson, two of the film’s three co-writers, have ensured the film honors its heritage. The production team wisely resisted the temptation to modernize the storyboard. Marcie doesn’t text Peppermint Patty; she calls her on a spiral-corded rotary telephone. When the Peanuts gang gets a snow day off from school, they don’t sit in front of computers playing video games; they all go outside and skate on a frozen pond. The gang twists and turns to jazz tunes at the school dance, and Snoopy composes his Red Baron fantasy novel on a manual typewriter.
Best of all, the 3-D computer graphics maintain a sense of a Sunday comics page’s colorful flatness.
To win the Little Red-Haired Girl’s heart, Charlie Brown puts long hours into a school assignment the two must do together. Linus shakes his head in disbelief. “Charlie Brown,” he says, “you’re the only person who could turn a book report into a lifelong commitment.”
As Charles M. Schulz did with a comic strip.