Monday, November 16, 2015

The Peanuts Movie

**1/2 out of ****

It has been a very long time since any incarnation of Charlie Brown and his friends have been seen doing anything.

I was naturally drawn to see The Peanuts Movie because its computer animation technique achieves something unique in the way that The Lego Movie did. It takes on the challenge to incorporate characteristics only inherent in pre-digital animation processes. Just as The Lego Movie borrowed from the stop-motion choppiness seen in homemade internet Lego movies, this film sets strong limitations to its well-rendered 3D models to only stand and move in formations reminiscent of their classic two-dimensional incarnations.

I’m sure that no small child is thinking about this, but it was a relief to me, that someone at Blue Sky Studios saw beauty in the simplicity of Charles Schulz’s drawings and found a clever way of maintaining their essence. Now, did they get everything else right?

Classic Peanuts plot elements are rehashed and stuffed into this episodic story about Charlie Brown trying to make a new impression and gain self-esteem. Sadly, the movie has a slightly obnoxious tone, lacking Schulz’s patient ability to build toward jokes and composer Christophe Beck’s epic movie score feels like the antithesis of Vince Guaraldi’s pathos-filled piano jazz music from those good ol’ Charlie Brown movies and specials (though it’s used occasionally for fan service).

I suppose that it’s enough that this movie features abstract looking kids doing things that no one in the 21st century does anymore. Imagine if parents had to explain to young audience members what jazz is too. At least Linus doesn’t quote any biblical scripture this time.

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