January 9, 2016
Peanuts was very popular back when I was growing up because of their cartoon strips and TV specials. However, in the year 2000, 50 years after its inception, Peanuts creator Charles Schulz decided to retire from writing daily comic strips. Since then, his beloved characters are still around in pop culture, maintaining a steady but low-key presence in various children's merchandise.
This holiday season though, the Peanuts gang is again getting a lot of media exposure due to their new computer-generated animated film. The local distributors of this film though do not seem sure that Filipinos will still recognize the name Peanuts anymore, so they made the names of the star characters Snoopy and Charlie Brown larger above the title in local posters and newspaper ads.
From beginning to end, this film shows us again the Peanuts we know and love, except that it is now executed in brilliantly colorful digital animation. It would seem that absolutely every little quirk and detail that I remember about the Peanuts canon were crammed into its hour and a half running time, and I was smiling knowingly throughout.
Charlie Brown is still our meek and cowardly hero, who cannot fly a kite or play ball. He still cannot muster up enough courage to talk to his crush, the Little Red Haired Girl. On the other hand, Snoopy is still typing his novel on his doghouse, fantasizing that he is an ace World War I pilot fighting the Red Baron. Of course, his best friend Woodstock is always right there to help him. There is a new twist here though, there is now a cute female dog Fifi he is trying to save.
The rest of the Peanut gang are all here with their own little idiosyncrasies. Linus with his Blanket, Lucy and her Psychiatric Help booth, Schroeder and his Piano, Marcie and her "Sir" Peppermint Patty, Frieda and her naturally curly hair, and so on. The most improved depiction (because the computerized rendering) was that of Pigpen and his cloud of dust (which I am sure was quite a challenge for the traditional animators in the 60s and 70s).
This is a great way to reintroduce the Peanuts franchise to the younger generations. I am sure parents will enjoy this more than their kids. They grew up with these characters so the sense of nostalgia will definitely be there throughout the film. Among the kids, maybe this film will appeal more to the younger set, meaning ages 10 and below. Teenagers may find this material too old-fashioned or too wholesome in contrast with the more frenetic or violent type of animated films they are used to nowadays.
The Peanuts Movie was indeed a refreshing throwback to a simpler and less complicated time. Watch it and feel happy. 9/10.