From classic kite scenes to new and creative elements, The Peanuts Movie is a fun film. The animated children’s movie is well-rounded in character development, story, and humor, for the scriptwriters skillfully craft familiar elements of the Peanuts comic strip into an over-arching storyline that unites the fragmentary comics into a seamless whole.
Football, snow days, Red Baron duels, the Little Red-Haired Girl, and Snoopy’s typewriter all make appearances in the film. Yet, while The Peanuts Movie alludes to the previous short films with Christmas carolers and pumpkin references, there are many new elements. For example, there are moments when some little event spirals into a distinctive part of the comics, and when viewers think to themselves, “So that’s how the Red Baron storyline started.” (Note: As I am not an expert on Peanuts, I don’t actually know how each storyline began, but The Peanuts Movie presents plausible scenarios.)
The Peanuts Movie is more than nostalgia and references to the past, however, for it has its own unique elements. Charlie Brown becomes a developed and sympathetic character. In spite of failures, he keeps going, and without realizing it, he’s always achieving and succeeding at what matters most. While the roles and characters of Lucy and Linus are more downplayed than in past stories, Snoopy and the Little Red-Haired Girl join Charlie on center stage. My impression of Snoopy has always been negative; he seems to be 95% mean and annoying, at least in his roles in the two Christmas short films and in many Peanuts comics I have read. Although vestiges of these characteristics remain, Snoopy turns out to be a good friend to Charlie Brown and a very imaginative daydreamer. Finally, the Little Red-Haired Girl has an interesting character. She has no name, and the audience knows almost nothing about her, yet the scriptwriters gradually reveal that she is sweet and nice—if only Charlie Brown could summon the courage to introduce himself! But such things are easier written than accomplished, as the movie demonstrates.
In addition to a fun storyline and excellent character development, The Peanuts Movie also has good messages. Charlie Brown discovers popularity isn’t as important as it seems and doesn’t change who a person is underneath. As Charlie Brown struggles with what he calls “a serious case of inadequacy,” I appreciate his honesty with himself (“Quotes”). Too often people promote “self-esteem” and self-confidence over humility, and the movie reminds us that we aren’t always going to be successful or feel “adequate.” Everyone has Charlie Brown moments, but few people can swallow their pride and face their problems as he does.
“If you really want to impress people, you need to show them you’re a winner,” Lucy advises Charlie at one point in the film (“Quotes”). In an unexpected twist, Lucy is right, though not in the way she intended. While Charlie Brown never really loses his chronic inadequacy and tendency to failure, he does show people that he’s a winner: someone who doesn’t give up and who is humble, honest, sympathetic, and kind even when it means sacrifice on his part. In the end, Charlie Brown does impress people, but not with the kind of success he, or Lucy, would have imagined.
“The Peanuts Movie (2015) Quotes.” IMDb.com. 2016. Internet Movie Database. 14 Jun. 2016 <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2452042/trivia?tab=qt&ref_=tt_trv_qu>.