Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Peanuts Movie Review

On March 18, 2014, the first teaser trailer for The Peanuts Movie was released. Yes, you read that right. 2014. March 2014. Nearly 20 months before the movie was actually released. That's insane. We're six months away from Captain America: Civil War and the general public still hasn't received a trailer for that. I remember thinking at the time that the release of the trailer in March meant that we were getting the movie that year. I remembered the movie being announced and I remembered that the release date was in November, so I assumed it was November of that year. Nope. Apparently Blue Sky Animation wanted to make sure that no one on planet Earth forgot that they were bringing the Peanuts characters back to the big screen. I love the Peanuts. I grew up on the Peanuts. But having Blue Sky announce that they were doing a full-length CGI movie of the Peanuts isn't something that I could say I was extremely excited for. I didn't hate the idea, either. It was a wait and see type of thing for me.

If you don't know Blue Sky right off the top of your head, they are one of the main animated studios that now exist. It used to be just Disney. Then Pixar joined the game and transformed the genre completely. Shortly after Dreamworks joined the club. Now we have a ton of them. Blue Sky came on the scene in 2002 with the movie Ice Age. This is their 10th movie now and they've consistently made between $100 million and $200 million here in the United States. Epic is their lowest grossing movie at $107 million while Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is their highest at $196 million. Overseas is a totally different story as the last two Ice Age movies trail only Frozen in the list of highest grossing animated movies of all time overseas. That's why we're getting a fifth one next summer. As far as my personal opinion of Blue Sky, I can't say that I hate any movie that they've made. But they hadn't made a movie that totally blew me away. The original Ice Age would have to be my favorite. Their shorts with Scrat the prehistoric squirrel chasing the acorns are also fantastic. We get another one of those before this movie, by the way, and it is absolute gold. But anywho, all of this meant that I expected something fun and cute out of this new Peanuts movie from Blue Sky. But holy cow they blew this out of the park. I can confidently say that this is their best movie now and possibly the best animated movie of the year.

What is it that makes The Peanuts Movie work so well? This is actually hard to put into words and do it complete justice. Speaking in general terms, the best way I can put it is that they did Peanuts perfectly. This felt like a screenplay that was written by Charles Schultz himself. It sounds like the voices in this movie were provided by the exact same voices who have done them previously. Not just that, the personalities of all the characters are exactly the same as they are in the holiday specials and the comic strips. And above all, it has the magic of the Peanuts. If it wasn't for the fact that Charles Schultz sadly passed away 15 years ago, it'd be hard for you to convince me that this wasn't him in charge of all this. Thus I think that if Charles Schultz was alive, I think he'd be extremely happy with how his beloved characters were treated on the big screen. A ton of credit has to be given to this whole team. So prepare yourself to fall in love with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, and the whole gang all over again.

As far as the story goes, this is a very simple story. Charlie Brown is a very nervous, socially awkward kid. He's not very good at flying a kite, playing baseball, or kicking a football, but he tries his best anyways. Yet, his confidence level is really low. He's always beating himself up, telling himself he can't do it, and thinking that he can't do anything right. Well, a little red-headed girl moves in next door and becomes Charlie's new crush. He wants to go talk to her. He wants to ask her to the dance. He wants to impress her. But, true to Charlie's character, he can't do it. He's too nervous. His confidence is too low. Every time he gets up the courage to do something big, he backs out at the last second. Sound familiar? It is. It's Charlie Brown done to perfection. He's a very relatable character for a whole lot of people, which is a big part of the reason why he is such a lovable character. It's just a blast watching his journey through the movie as he's trying to impress the little red-headed girl. Woven into this story is the adventures of Snoopy vs. the Red Baron, the themes of which parallel very well to what is happening with Charlie Brown and the little red-headed girl.

If you aren't a fan of Charlie Brown or the Peanuts in general, I suppose I can see how you wouldn't be totally in love with this movie. It's nothing ground-breaking. They don't do anything bold or ambitious. There's no crazy twists. In fact, you can call this very safe and predictable. But that's the thing. Peanuts doesn't need to do any of that. Peanuts has always been very simple, yet it's the simplicity of it all that makes it very profound. There's a whole lot of fun to be had. I had a huge smile on my face for the whole movie. There's a lot of valuable lessons for young kids to learn throughout this movie, thus making this a perfect family movie. Your kids should have a ton of fun with the movie and it will teach them a lot of good principles. That's what you want, right? None of these lessons are shoved down your throat. It's all done very naturally and beautifully. It's also a G-rated movie, which doesn't happen very often. But not only does this movie have a lot of excellent things in it for young kids, all the adults that grew up with Peanuts should love this. Not only is this movie full of nods to the Peanuts that we all loved, but this movie packs a powerful, emotional punch right at the end and for me it hit home.

This is a simple review. I spent most of this talking about the advertising campaign and Blue Sky as a whole and when I did talk about the movie, I didn't give a whole lot of specifics. The thing is, this is a very simple movie and I don't want to talk about too many specifics in this instance because I want you to discover these things for yourself. It's one of those movies where I don't want to say too much. But I will say that if you grew up on Peanuts and you love these characters, you are going to love this movie because it is such a delightful, fun, emotional Peanuts movie that does justice to these great characters that we've all loved growing up. I expected a cute, fun, slightly-above-average Peanuts adaptation, but I was totally blown away with this film. I was smiling and laughing throughout the whole film. In fact, I think I was probably laughing more than all of the kids in the theater with me, who were definitely enjoying the film. In fact, there were a few times during the movie where I chose to look around at the whole theater and it was such a delight watching everyone having such a good time with this movie, adult and child alike. And yes, I was holding back tears at the end of this movie. I didn't expect that at all. Pixar's Inside Out was a pretty dang good movie, yet this challenges that film as my favorite animated movie of the year. My grade for The Peanuts Movie will be the same as that one. I'm giving this a 9/10.

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