Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie is a marvellous reminder of the enduring appeal of the Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip. It’s commendable how well the film elegantly showcases the Peanuts universe without ever feeling the need to compromise its unique spirit. In fact, some of the film’s best sequences are the ones in which the original comic strip is evoked amidst the three-dimensional animated sequences.
One such example comes at the beginning of the picture when Charlie Brown is reflecting on the fact that his new neighbour (the iconic Little Red Headed Girl) will not know who he is at all. He ultimately views this as a blessing because she will not have any knowledge of his past embarrassing moments. While he is articulating this sentiment, the audience is treated to some of these awkward situations via animated comic strip panels that appear in a thought balloon that is hovering above Charlie Brown’s head.
Additionally, the humour of the Peanuts is substantially articulated and preserved throughout the film. Whether it is Charlie Brown hyperbolically expressing pessimism about his prospects over the little Red Headed Girl being his book report partner or the scenes that are dedicated to Lucy’s amusing attempt at being a psychiatrist. The writers firmly understand that the kids in Peanuts are absurdist and poignant illustrations of adulthood. Moreover, the screenplay fundamentally makes Charlie Brown a character who does not revel in his misfortune. There is potent positively to this version of the loveable blockhead that makes him endearing.
However, despite these seemingly good points, there is a central problem at the heart of the picture, which is surmised in the title. The character of Snoopy is not employed effectively in the film. Through the course of the film, there are sections dedicated to Snoopy writing chapters about an idealised version of himself called “The Flying Ace” and his subsequent attempts to rescue a girl that he had a chance encounter with, who is named Fifi.
The first sequence comes after Charlie Brown’s recent attempt to impress the girl of his dreams, which expresses an interesting parallel of idealisation and failure in both characters’ romances. However, as the picture goes on these sequences feel much more scattered and less connected with the narrative. One could argue that Snoopy’s antics in previous iterations has always been random vignettes. However, in this film, it felt particularly glaring and problematic because the punchline of the chapters leads to a repeated joke that has occurred many times.
Nevertheless, the sequences in of themselves do represent some of the best cinematic images of the entire film. One particular chapter abandons the vibrant and warm embracing colour scheme of the everyday sequences and instead dazzles with a blue twilight bathed skyscape where Snoopy takes on the fearsome Red Baron plane in the film’s most exciting sequence.