Peanuts movie has heady whiff of nostalgia
IF UNABASHED sweetness is your weakness then you will be completely helpless in the company of Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie. Written by Craig and Bryan Schulz, the son and grandson of Charles M Schulz, Steve Martino's film marries the old-fashioned, wholesome sensibilities of the syndicated comic strips with state-of-the-art computer animation.
The episodic nature of the script suggests that several bitesize adventures for the titular pooch and his self-doubting master have been sandwiched together and passed off as a fluid narrative.
It's candy floss film-making: colourful, sugary and easily digested, expertly spun out of hot air by a vast team of talented animators, who have managed to replicate familiar character designs in shiny 3D.
The Peanuts Movie is a big, heady whiff of nostalgia. It's hard to resist the innate charm and vulnerability of Charlie as he laments his inability to talk to the new girl at school ("I just came down with a serious case of inadequacy!") and searches for inspiration in a self-help book entitled 10 Ways To Be A Winner. Everyone loves a trier.
Charlie Brown (voiced by Noah Schnapp) faces his nemesis – the Kite-Eating Tree – and once again comes off second best to Mother Nature.
"You'll never get that to fly. Why? Because you're Charlie Brown!" snorts Lucy (Hadley Belle Miller).
The luckless lad refuses to be downhearted. "Charlie Brown is not a quitter," he tells himself.
Soon after, a Little Red Haired Girl (Francesca Capaldi) moves in across the street with her family and Charlie develops the most terrible crush.
"She's not that pretty," grumbles Lucy dismissively.
Unable to talk to his new neighbour, even with the encouragement of Snoopy (Bill Melendez) or his chums Peppermint Patty (Venus Schultheis), Linus (Alexander Garfin) and Pig-Pen (AJ Tecce), Charlie resolves to catch the girl's eye by winning his school's talent competition. His plan goes awry and he becomes the laughing stock of the school.
Subsequent attempts to win the affection of the Little Red Haired Girl by learning to dance, and writing a school report on "Leo's Toy Story by Warren Peace" also end in humiliation.
Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie is a delightful, gossamer-thin diversion. In an age of increasingly sophisticated, multi-faceted animations, Steve Martino's film harks back to simpler and unabashedly sentimental times of linear storytelling and wholesome messaging.
Laid-back vocal performances include archive recordings of Melendez as Snoopy and Woodstock.
SNOOPY AND CHARLIE BROWN: THE PEANUTS MOVIE (U, 93 mins) Animation/Family/Comedy/Drama/Romance. Featuring the voices of Noah Schnapp, Bill Melendez, Mariel Sheets, Hadley Belle Miller, Francesca Capaldi, Venus Schultheis, Alexander Garfin, Kristin Chenoweth, AJ Tecce, Rebecca Bloom, William Wunsch, Marleik Mar Mar Walker, Madisyn Shipman, Noah Johnston. Director: Steve Martino.