THE PEANUTS MOVIE (7.5 out of 10) Directed by Steve Martino; Written by Bryan Schulz, Craig Schulz, Cornelius Uliano, based on the comic strips by Charles M. Schulz; Starring Noah Schnapp, Bill Melendez, Hadley Belle Miller, Trombone Shorty, Rebecca Bloom, Anastasia Bredikhina, Francesca Capaldi, Kristin Chenoweth, Alexander Garfin, Noah Johnston, Venus Schultheis, Mariel Sheets; Rated G; Running time 93 minutes; In wide release November 6, 2015.
The best thing you can say about "The Peanuts Movie" is it is most definitely a Peanuts movie. They have so nailed the style and heart of the original comic strips and television specials, it's easy to fall in love with the charms of this film. The only thing that prevents it from being a classic is lack of repeat viewing and the nostalgia associated with seeing it every year around your favorite holidays.
Charlie Brown is still Charlie Brown, even in 2015. He's still his same old sad-sack self, until one day the "Cute Red Headed Girl" moves in across the street. Now Charlie Brown has to do his best to try to impress her, including doing a group book report, and even becoming proclaimed a genius after a standardized testing mistake awards him a perfect score.
Meanwhile, spurred on by his master's love's labor's lost, Snoopy finds an old typewriter and begins working on his own version of the greatest love story of all time. And, of course, it's the World War I Flying Ace fighting his nemesis the Red Baron, with a beautiful French poodle pilot named Fifi caught in the middle.
All of your favorite characters are there, and all of them get their moments. Name an iconic Peanuts trope or setting, and it is in here. Charlie Brown flies a kite. He plays baseball. Lucy has a psychiatrist booth. Schroeder plays Beethoven. Peppermint Patty falls asleep in class.
The story progresses almost as a series of sketches of Schulz-esque three-paneled comics rather than a truly cohesive whole, but that bears an uncanny similarity to "It's the Great Pumpkin" and "It's Christmas, Charlie Brown" and other earlier tv adaptations. Depending on how you view it, this is either the film's greatest liability or its most brilliant success.
Actually, strike that. The worst part of the film is the sequence which sticks out like a sore thumb: a school dance sequence where they take the classic Vince Guaraldi Trio jazz score (ably mimicked by Christophe Beck-- when they're not using classics like "Linus and Lucy" or "Christmastime is Here") and substitute it for Meghan Trainor and Flo Rida. . . ugh. It's not that these songs are so terrible. They just don't fit with the rest of the film.
But aside from that, there is a lot to love here. Kids from age 6 to 106 will have fun with this.
7.5 out of 10