Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the beloved "Peanuts" gang make their big-screen debut, like they've never been seen before, in state of the art 3D animation. Charlie Brown, the world's most beloved underdog, embarks upon an epic and heroic quest, while his best pal, the lovable beagle Snoopy, takes to the skies to pursue his arch-nemesis, the Red Baron. From the imagination of Charles M. Schulz and the creators of the ICE AGE films, THE PEANUTS MOVIE will prove that every underdog has his day.
Perhaps 'The Peanuts Movie' is so enjoyable simply because it doesn't try to be anything it's not, without trying too hard to appeal to "modern" children. So often these old franchises are rebooted, given a pop-culture facelift, and marketed to a new generation with the promise of, "We're cool. We're hip. See! Here's a joke about Charlie Brown doing the Nae Nae." Man, could you imagine that movie? Yeesh!
The fact that Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang never run into Peanut-ized versions of Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber is just another reason to love this movie. It could have sold out. It could have pandered to the kids of Millenials by spoon-feeding them dated pop-culture references, but it didn't. Instead, you get the feeling from this sweet little movie that "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz would indeed approve.
There's a fine balance that 'The Peanuts Movie' must constantly be aware of. It needs to update its look and pacing in order to please kids of today (my four-year-old son might be the only kid in the world who consciously picks out the Blu-ray of 'A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving' on purpose, and enjoys it), all the while retaining the care-free spirit that makes the Charlie (Noah Schnapp), Lucy (Hadley Belle Miller), Linus (Alexander Garfin), Snoopy (Bill Melendez), and the rest of the crew such endearing characters.
In order to maintain this balance the filmmakers, headed by director Steve Martino, craft a story that exists without being tied down to this one period in time. For example, while the 'Shrek' movies are fondly remembered by many, they're also instantly dated because of the pop-culture references and popular-at-that-time songs which are used throughout the franchise. Each movie can be tied to a specific time period simply by the jokes. Whereas, tying down 'The Peanuts Movie' to a specific period would be much harder.
Sure the characters have been updated in regards to animation. Gone are the days of wholly 2D-animated Peanuts people. However, in order to keep some of the charm of Schulz's original comic strips, the animators provide a rather intriguing 2D-3D mash-up that feels fun, fresh, but also harkens back to those flat panels in the funny pages (the one downside to this animation style being the way Linus' hair is animated makes him look like he has some kind of scalp disease).
True to form, Charlie Brown is a man constantly at the receiving end of old fashioned bad luck. If there were fictional proof that karma doesn't exist, it would be Charlie Brown. All the poor kid does is put good out into the universe only to have the complete opposite rained down upon him.
Here Charlie Brown becomes enamored with the new red-haired girl who moves in across the street. The storyline follows Chuck and his friends through an entire year of school. Charlie Brown finds himself faced with moral dilemmas, insurmountable challenges, and the frightening possibility of having to talk to the girl he likes (gulp!). Of course, on the side, we get another entry into the Red Baron vs. Snoopy canon, which is fun, but may overstay its welcome.
Charlie Brown makes the new 'Peanuts Movie' pleasurable. Here's a movie that could've gone off the rails and kowtowed to pop culture. Instead, it stays true to its roots, delivers a lighthearted adventure filled with chuckle-worthy moments. Sure, kids will love it, but the most appealing thing about 'The Peanuts Movie' is that the new look is in keeping with the classic "Peanuts" spirit.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a review of the Collector's Edition of 'The Peanuts Movie.' First off this edition of the movie comes packaged in a larger box which holds a standard Blu-ray keepcase and a small Snoopy plush toy. The outer box used for packaging the two together isn't made to be a display item, I don't think. It tears pretty easy when trying to get to the movie and the toy.
There are two discs included. One 50GB Blu-ray, and one DVD. A code for a Digital Copy is also provided. This release also includes a slipcover.
These are interesting visuals to review. That's because of the 2D-3D hybrid animation employed here. The 1080p presentation is simple in its construction. The characters appear two-dimensional, except shadows and light provide an extra, slight, dimension. It's here where the presentation shines.
As it works in conjunction with the original animation, the high-def presentation offered up by 20th Century Fox is bright and bold. The colors here are expectedly vivid. There's never a dull moment. The surprising detail here is the pop of textures on clothing, hair, grass, and trees which provides great depth juxtaposition to the smooth faces populating the screen.
There aren't many black areas, but when they show up they're sufficiently dark. There's a great scene, as Snoopy flies through gray cloud cover, which showcases the way the presentation handles gradients. This would be a perfect place for banding to rear its ugly head, but it never does. Instead the various shades of gray blend perfectly as Snoopy flies through them. While it may not produce eye-popping visuals like Pixar's 'The Good Dinosaur,' 'The Peanuts Movie' is nonetheless proficient at its own style. This is a great looking transfer that stays very true to its source.
'The Peanuts Movie' harbors an engaging, somewhat light, DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix. I mention that its light, not as a slight, but as an observation. In the spirit of the movie itself, the audio mix doesn't take on too much. It doesn't overpower itself. This is the type of story that doesn't need a bombastic sound field to be enjoyable.
So, one might see a 7.1 mix as overkill. Possibly. Really, the only added benefit of the side channels is the extra immersion provided during the Red Baron vs. Snoopy sequences. Could those scenes sound just as good with a 5.1 mix? Maybe. There is a greater sense of enveloping sound as Snoopy flies from one side of the frame to the other, and as the Red Baron circles around the back. That's where the surround channels do most, if not all, of their work. They house some of the movie's soundtrack, but the bulk of their workload is confined to the dogfight sequences. They're playful and fun. The surround sound provided for them isn't overly aggressive either. It hits just the right notes to be considered spirited action.
LFE is very light. Even when a couple poppy songs crop up in the soundtrack the bass is toned way down. Again, that's fine. This isn't a movie that's intent on rumbling the pictures off your walls. Dialogue is perfectly succinct at all times. Directionality is superb – notice the seamless transition of buzzing as the running joke of the runaway toy plane floats across the screen.
Snoopy Snippets (HD, 3 min.) – Several brief cartoons featuring Snoopy are offered up here.
Snoopy's Sibling Salute (HD, 2 min.) – Another Snoopy-centric special feature.
You Never Grow Up, Charlie Brown (HD, 30 min.) – Here we get a thoughtful making-of feature that provides interviews with cast, crew, and members of the Schulz family.
Learn to Draw Snoopy (HD, 4 min.) – Director Steve Martino offers up tips on how to draw Charlie Brown's best beagle friend.
Learn to Draw Woodstock (HD, 3 min.) – Martino teaches us how to draw Snoopy's best bird friend.
Learn to Draw Charlie Brown (HD, 4 min.) – Martino shows us how to draw the star.
Get Down with Snoopy and Woodstock Music Video (HD, 2 min.) – Yeah, that title is pretty self-explanatory.
"Better When I'm Dancin'" Lyric Video (HD, 3 min.) – A karaoke version of the Meghan Trainor song featured in the movie.
"Better When I'm Dancin'" Music Video (HD, 3 min.) – The music video for the song.
Behind the scenes of "Better When I'm Dancin'" (HD, 3 min.) – Behind the scenes of the song and video.
Snoopy's Playlist (HD, 28 min.) – This is just a collection of the musical moments from the movie all in one place.
Gallery (HD, 10 min.) – Offers up color keys, character art, concept art, and finalized artwork.
The fact that 'The Peanuts Movie' feels like a Schulz creation is the prime reason it's so amusing. There's a carefree, timeless sort of spirit here. No, it's probably not a classic of animation. That's okay though. It doesn't have to reinvent the wheel in order to create an updated story for an enduring classic. With very strong audio and video, 'The Peanuts Movie' comes highly recommended.