Even if you haven’t read the comics, you’ve probably heard of Charlie Brown, and you’re sure to recognise his dog, Snoopy. Charlie and Snoopy are the main characters in the long-running comic strip, Peanuts, and Snoopy: The Peanuts Movie is the first time the gang has been brought to life on the big screen.
The wonderful thing about comic strips – perhaps the most appealing thing about them, in fact – s that they are short bursts of standalone comedy. This works well on paper, but, as this film proves, it doesn’t translate quite as well to a 90-minute story. The plot feels a bit disjointed, and although the main story arc sees Charlie (Noah Schnapp) trying to get a new student, The Little Red-Haired Girl (Francesca Capaldi), to notice him, the movie feels like it would have been better split into multiple cartoons.
The sub plot about Snoopy and the Red Baron – a pilot he fights in a story he is writing – feels more like a way to get Snoopy (Bill Melendez) some extra screen time than anything else, and the film would have been more cohesive if this scene had been cut.
Plot holes aside, the film has a real charm, and it’s nice to see that the characters just as they were in the original. Charlie is still the bumbling “blockhead” with a history of bad luck; Snoopy is still his faithful friend who is simultaneously rooting for him whilst laughing at his mishaps and Lucy (Hadley Belle Miller) is still as loud and obnoxious as ever.
The highlight of the film though, is undoubtedly the animation. The team at Blue Sky Studios have done a magnificent job of bringing Charlie and friends into 2015 while preserving some of the hand drawn elements of the original cartoon, like little speech bubbles and some “Zzzz” above a sleeping Snoopy.
Along with the animation, there are a lot of nice quirks about Snoopy: The Peanuts Movie, like the fact that the producers used mostly child actors to voice the characters, and Charlie’s heartwarming acceptance of himself – it’s just a shame that these individual triumphs don’t all come together with the same overall success.