The Peanuts Movie
3.5/5   UK title: Snoopy and Charlie Brown
dir Steve Martino
scr Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz, Cornelius Uliano
prd Paul Feig, Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz, Cornelius Uliano, Michael J Travers
voices Noah Schnapp, Bill Melendez, Hadley Belle Miller, Mariel Sheets, Alex Garfin, Francesca Angelucci Capaldi, Venus Omega Schultheis, Noah Johnston, Rebecca Bloom, Marleik 'Mar Mar' Walker, AJ Tecce, Kristin Chenoweth
release US 6.Nov.15, UK 21.Dec.15
15/US Fox 1h28
The Peanuts Movie
True love forever: Snoopy and Charlie Brown

The Peanuts Movie

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The Peanuts Movie Fans of the Peanuts comics and TV specials will enjoy this big-screen version, which has been adapted to capture the characters without either trying to update it visually or add cynicism and pointless action. It's a series of small, everyday childhood adventures based on friendships, rivalries and misunderstood urges. And even if the message is overstated, the film is rather sweet.

On the first snow day of the winter, Charlie Brown (Schnapp) is hoping to reinvent himself for a red-haired girl (Capaldi) who has just moved in across the street. But he can't work up courage to introduce himself. And it doesn't help that his diva-like neighbour Lucy (Miller) is so intent on embarrassing him, or that his little sister Sally (Sheets) is profiting from his celebrity after he aces a test. Meanwhile, Charlie's dog Snoopy (Melendez) has a series of his own adventures imagining himself in a series of aerial battles against the Red Baron.

Cowritten by creator Charles Schulz's son and grandson, the script maintains the comic strip's warm, goofy approach, which may seem rather quaint to modern-day audiences. But the humour is gently charming, centring on Charlie's crippling, unfounded inadequacies and Snoopy's riotous curiosity and imagination. A doggie love interest (Chenoweth) is rather corny, as is the pop stardom that develops around Charlie as a top pupil, but it's hard to dislike a film in which the main plot point is the completion of a book report.

The animators cleverly adapt the vintage cartoon style into textured digital imagery, packing scenes with bright, colourful sight gags that are witty without being forced. Much of the imagery is rather plastic-looking, but the style has a hand-drawn charm to it that gives the lively characters some real spark (plus some vintage line drawings to add nostalgia). The only real action in the film comes in Snoopy's aerial dogfights.

What makes Peanuts so enduring is the way it playfully taps into universal insecurities, depicting both the humiliations and exuberance of childhood. Much of this might be lost on a young audience, although they'll easily identify with Charlie's inner yearnings and Snoopy's flights of fancy. So even if the film drifts into some sentimental moralising, everybody knows how it feels when life conspires against us. And everyone hopes someone will notice who we really are.

cert u some themes 29.Nov.15

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