Movie review: 'The Peanuts Movie'

06 December 2015 - 02:00 By Ellen Heydenrych
'The Peanuts Movie'.
'The Peanuts Movie'.
Image: Supplied

'The Peanuts Movie' doesn't lose any of its original charm in glorious 3-D mode, writes Ellen Heydenrych

South African children of my born-free generation did not pay much attention to the ultra-American cartoon strip Peanuts. As I approached adulthood, however, I realised that Charlie Brown is everyman's everyman. He's an underdog who can never do anything right. Haven't we all been there?

As an awkward teenager, I found I related to Charlie Brown. I wish I'd had a trusty sidekick like Snoopy to help me through those years.

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In The Peanuts Movie, Charlie Brown is as awkward as he is in the comics. When a new kid moves in across the street, he cannot contain his excitement at the prospect of making a new friend.

"I just hope this new kid has never heard of me. It's not often you get the opportunity to start over ... This time things will be different," he says, climbing a fence to catch a glimpse of his new neighbour.

When Charlie Brown discovers that the new kid on the block is a very pretty "little red-haired girl" who bites her pencil just as he does, he embarks on a mission to win her heart, but is let down by a "serious case of inadequacy".

He tries everything he can to woo her - apart from actually speaking to her. He enters the school talent show, learns to dance and do magic tricks, even reads War and Peace so he can write her book report.

Interwoven with Charlie Brown's pursuit of affection is Snoopy's tale. After being thrown out of school and into a dustbin by Lucy ("No dogs!"), Snoopy finds a typewriter in the trash, lugs it onto the roof of his kennel and begins a novel.

Set in World War 1, Snoopy's story tells of a dog named Fifi, whose heart he wins mere moments before she is kidnapped by his arch enemy, the Red Baron. The rest of the tale follows Snoopy as he attempts to save Fifi from the Red Baron's evil clutches.

The Peanuts Movie artfully straddles the charming simplicity of the original comic and the three-dimensional illustrative technology of modern animation. When bashful Charlie Brown does something embarrassing, the apples of his cheeks redden in little pencil strokes and the curl on his forehead wiggles to a jazzy soundtrack.

In glorious 3-D mode, Charlie Brown is even more of an everyman. I think I would have enjoyed The Peanuts Movie as a kid. Instead, I really enjoyed it as an adult.

Rating: 3/5