Snoopy & Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie (2D)
Cert: U / 93 mins / Dir. Steve Martino / Trailer
One of the few films this year which I've gone to see in the full knowledge that it's not really aimed at me*1. I'm a fan of animated movies, but I was never really into Snoopy in my younger years, and although I appreciate the writing behind it more now, the humour of the drawn-strips is still somewhat otherworldly to me, somehow. But despite not fitting neatly into the target-demographic (y'know, what with being a middle-aged curmudgeon who's impatiently waiting for Star Wars), it's still clear how much respect and love for the source-material has gone into the new movie. And apart from anything else, I had Mrs Blackout with me, who loves all things Schulz in the way that I love the GFFA; so that helped, too ;)
In short: utterly sweet and thoroughly charming, and in a way which (largely) avoids the forced mawkishness which is the default setting of 'family' movies when they're not being noisy. The film looks gorgeous (as you'd expect), and I suspect many fears have been laid to rest regarding the use of 3D (ie 'computer') animation for characters who've been hand-drawn for the last sixty-five years. The environments and characters are rendered in real-space with 2D embellishments, and it's a great way of bridging the gap between the newspaper strips and cels of old and what's expected in a multiplex in 2015. Although for all the high resolution and subtle texturing and camera-movement, the film is 2D at heart, and is a warmer experience for it.
Also sitting rightfully in first place are the voice-cast; proof again that child actors can be every bit as naturalistic and genuine as their grown-up counterparts if they're directed well (and allowed to find their own space within the character). The film also features archival (ie posthumous) voicework from Bill Melendez, the actor/director who has always been the voice of Snoopy, which brings a fantastic sense of continuity to what is hopefully a new chapter in the black and white dog's career. The film is more than a fan-pleasing greatest-hits reel, but also not trying to re-invent Schulz's world as something different for a new audience; quite the opposite, it's classic Snoopy and is as sweet and timeless as it's always been. Animation styles may change and techniques may progress, but personalities will always be the same.
This adaptation was never going to make me a late-convert, but I enjoyed The Peanuts Movie far more thought I would. Personally I thought the Snoopy-adventure segments worked better than the Charlie Brown ones, but that's because the former are essentially silent-cinema, and I love that purity of storytelling. It's true that Peanuts will only appeal to the audience who'd go and see it anyway, and it's also true that the U-certificate ensures the film is completely undemanding; but in carrying on the legacy of the world's favourite beagle, the film more than succeeds.
The question still remains though: Why is no-one alarmed at how sentient Charlie Brown's dog is?
Only if you're a Snoopy-fan (obviously.)
If you're not instantly sold, it'll be a rental tops. Although if you have young children (particularly girls), you may not get given that option.
Everyone involved can be very proud of what they helped make, yes.
I think it does, although I'm really not the best judge in this case.
Snoopy's romantic-interest in the film, Fifi, is voiced by Kristin Chenoweth, who also starred in 2006's Four Christmases, as did Jon 'Pre Vizsla' Favreau.
*1 No trust me, despite chancing my hand on a few dramas that wouldn't normally be up my street, I've deliberately avoided a fair few films that I knew I'd get nothing out of.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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