My family and I went to see The Peanuts Movie. I entered the movie theater afraid of what I would find. I had not read any reviews or seen any extended trailers. As I sat in the theater and watched the previews for some really bad upcoming movies, I was even more worried. Would Hollywood turn Charlie Brown into something I wouldn’t recognize? Would the delightful clumsy and quirky little boy be turned into someone else?
The Peanuts Movie is the classic Charlie Brown from my childhood. It is graphically enhanced, but overall the movie follows the storyline that we all know and love. When Charlie Brown sees the “little red-haired girl” for the first time, he is instantly in love. He is afraid to talk to her, and any time he gets close to talking to her, he chickens out. When Charlie Brown “aces” a standardized test, he becomes the school “hero.” When he is paired up to write a book report with the little red haired girl while she is out of town, Charlie Brown decides he will write the book report on his own. Meanwhile Snoopy is writing his own story about The Flying Ace and the Red Baron which involves many scenes of Snoopy at his finest.
I suspect that some movie reviewers will say that the movie is too classic. There isn’t a lot of new material, but there is something comforting in knowing that a classic was remade into something our children will enjoy. My younger children know very little about Charlie Brown, but they got to see one of my childhood cartoons without it being changed into a modern remake. Lucy is still giving out advice for 5 cents. Linus has his security blanket, Pigpen his cloud of dust, Peppermint Patty falls asleep in class and Marcie still calls her Sir. Schroeder still plays his piano. Staying true to the original included Snoopy typing on a real typewriter with Woodstock as his sidekick. Charlie Brown reading a real book (not a Kindle), and taking notes on index cards. (Do kids even know what index cards are anymore?) This makes for a movie that has plenty of teachable moments!
The movie does take a shot at standardized testing, and the implication that testing could convince you that you are capable or not capable based on the outcome of the test. I applaud the writers for this bit of wisdom inserted in the film.
Charlie Brown is his own worst enemy. He believes the worst about himself, and the words he speaks about himself project an insecure individual. Actually there is a little Charlie Brown in all of us. The best thing we can learn from Charlie Brown is to get up and keep trying. Charlie Brown may fail at many things (flying kites, baseball, kicking a football, and talking with the little red haired girl), but he shows compassion, honesty, and bravery. He embodies the best qualities that we want in a friend.
I personally loved this movie, as did everyone in my family. This is one movie I know my kids will watch again.
As a side note: Viewing this movie with Jack-Jack (my 11 year old autistic son) made me happy. There are many things that Jack-Jack and Charlie Brown have in common. Charlie Brown doesn’t like change. He wears the same clothes every day. He says the same things over and over. He is very simple in what he likes. He keeps trying even at things he may never accomplish. And he either has a smile on his face or the sky is falling! Jack-Jack and Charlie Brown would be great friends!