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The Peanuts Movie (5/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 86 minutes.

OK for children.

I am close to being one of the original fans of Peanuts, starting in the Ď50s. I  have the booklets of strips that were published then. I still start each day reading that dayís strip. And I still love them.

I liked the TV shows, too, A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), Itís the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966), A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969), and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973). They were faithful to the strip in that the animation and voices captured its unique spirit. Those cartoons were written by Charles Schulz and directed by Bill Melendez. My feeling is that a big reason why they are great (and they are great) was the amazing music of Vince Guaraldi. It was absolutely perfect, capturing the ambience of the 6-year old characters who act and speak like adults.

Unfortunately, this new try doesnít have Charles Schulz to write the script and it doesnít have Bill Melendez to direct and, maybe the biggest loss of all, it doesnít have Vince Guaraldi to write the music. As a result, it pretty much fails on all levels.

The genius of Charles Schulz was that he was not only a great writer, he dealt with lots of philosophical problems in almost every strip. In four panels each day his six year olds dealt with many of the issues everyone faces in life and they did it in a totally humorous way.

Thatís where this movie fails. It doesnít have the philosophical whimsy that was part and parcel of Schulzís strip. The movie valiantly tries to bring in all facets of the characters of the strip, even Snoopy fighting The Red Baron. But there was only one Charles Schulz. Because heís no longer here and not a part of the movie, the movie misfires. I started looking at my watch ten minutes in and the second hand seemed to crawl by for the next 76 minutes.

Even the animation and 3D are detractions. Because of the newer type of animation, all of the heads of the characters just look like blown up balloons, especially Charlie Brown's.

Schulz was smart in that he did not allow anybody else to take over the strip when he was no longer able to do write it. This movie is a perfect illustration of the wisdom of that decision.