The Peanuts characters have always been part of my life. I remember learning to read while reading the Peanuts strips with my grandmother. The stories were simple, thoughtful and hilarious. But the thing that I admired about them the most was their sincerity. Charles Schulz had a unique sense of the human condition, which he conveyed brilliantly in his comic strips.
The Peanuts Movie carries on Schulz’s creative legacy, to a point. It’s a very sincere film, much like its source material. It definitely has the Schulz magic. I can tell that every frame was poured over to be a faithful recreation of original Peanuts animation director Bill Melendez’s classic TV specials and features, albeit using the medium of computer animation.
It’s wonderful to watch the Peanuts gang in the antics to which the public is accustomed. It’s like a big, warm blanket that just makes one feel good watching it. And I am glad the characters are back in the public consciousness, touching a new generation.
However, the film’s biggest flaw (to take a phrase from the source material) is its wishy-washyness when it comes to the classic tropes of Peanuts, and unnecessarily bending them to a more modern sensibility. I could tell from a few creative decisions that the filmmakers had a hard time figuring certain things out.
Regardless, the film’s heart is definitely in the right place, and conveys some very profound themes about life, as did Schulz and his strips. It’s a reminder that we connect with Charlie Brown because we sometimes feel like him, and we want to be reassured that we are adequate enough to be loved.
Good grief! SPOILERS AHEAD!