By Troy Ribeiro
Film: “Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie”; Voices of: Noah Schnapp, Hadley Miller, Bill Melendez, Kristin Chenoweth, Alexander Garfin; Director: Steve Martino; Rating: **1/2
Based on the daily newspaper comic strip, Peanuts, created by the late Charles M. Schulz in 1950, “Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie” is a decent Christmas release for children and adults alike.
Whether you’ve followed “Peanuts” for decades or not, this is your introduction to Charlie Brown, the everyman with ever-changing mood and grace who is befriended by all and ostracised by everyone — and you’ll relate to the film.
The tale with the premise “Dreams come true” details the travails of Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) to impress his new neighbour.
Scripted by Charles’s son and grandson Craig and Bryan Schulz along with Cornelius Uliano, this is the first computer-animated film of the franchise. It plays safe with the strips tropes along with the characters of the “Peanuts” gang which include the acerbic Lucy (Hadley Miller), Lucy’s brother and peace-maker Linus (Alex Garfin), Charlie Brown’s little sister Sally (Mariel Sheets), the piano-playing Schroeder (Noah Johnston) and Charlie Brown’s pet dog Snoopy (Bill Melendez) along with his love interest Fifi (Kristin Chenoweth).
The narration begins with the “Peanuts” gang celebrating the snowfall after the first day of the new session at school is cancelled. Charlie is determined to fly a kite in winter, but he is soon distracted with the arrival of “The little red head” (Francesca Capaldi) in his neighbourhood and class.
He falls head-over-heels for her and is hell-bent on seeking her attention. While he plots his way to impress her, he panics due to lack of self-confidence as he wants her to accept him for what he is.
And as usual, he is the loser — “kind and gullible”, yet a hero — who rises after every downfall with shining hope, “determination and dedication”.
The story is original to the franchise, but the episodic plot, packed with references, is a bit trite in reality. And the frolicsome action with some airborne escapades gets a bit tedious after a while.
Coming from Blue Sky Studios, the makers of “Ice-Age”, the frames are lively and the palette colourful but the style and texture of the visuals may appear to be odd at first glance.
The images of the characters — with flat, squiggle-lines for mouths and eyelashes — are very much like the ones seen in Charles Schultz’s characteristically shaky, inky black lines, in the newspapers. But then you soon get used to these computer-generated images in 3D effects.
As for the background score, the director has wisely retained the jazzy themes of Vince Guaraldi’s famous music from the TV show “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Here it is performed by David Benoit and it seamlessly meshes with Christophe Beck’s original score.
This is a sweet amusing film that will charm, but you will not get bowled over.