Peanuts delightful, but only the first time

The Peanuts Movie has a weird relationship with Snoopy. On the one hand, it’s a lot like the Despicable Me series in which the filler material is a lot more fun than the main story, but in this, it’s too obvious that it’s filler and there’s too big a shift between the Snoopy sequences and the main sequences. It really feels like we’re alternating between two completely different movies in these scenes. Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox.

Who could dislike The Peanuts Movie? It’s The Peanuts! It’s a classic! But the more this new movie wears on, the more you realize how little you’d get from watching it again.

You all know the plot. It’s The Peanuts! Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) pines after the little red-haired girl (Francesca Angelucci Capaldi) and Snoopy fantasizes about being a World War I fighter pilot. It’s The Peanuts!

The only thing about this movie that isn’t inherent to an adaptation of these particular comic strips is also the best part — the animation. This movie brings a whole new style of 3D renderings set in a 2D plane. It looks a lot like a CGI-enhanced South Park, with all of the charm. But even better than that are the little details. During the first Red Baron scene, lightning flashes and the screen goes completely black with the exception of the white lightning. Smitten characters have little hearts float around them. One scene with Snoopy breaks into complete abstraction. There’s a ton of visual creativity here.

This is in stark contrast to the story, which doesn’t offer much beyond “It’s The Peanuts!” The Peanuts Movie covers absolutely no new ground, with pretty much every story point being something that was published in a handful of collections and adapted in more than one other feature. As the initial burst of nostalgia fades, so does the film itself, and you start to wish there were stories you hadn’t heard before and that they didn’t take Snoopy breaks so often.

Additionally, something that really stands out even before the movie wears out its welcome is some of the music choices. While most of the movie is dominated by David Benoit’s upbeat piano from the holiday specials, it breaks into Meghan Trainor’s “Better when I’m Dancin'” or Flo Rida’s “That’s What I Like” at certain points, and this hits like a punch in the gut. The Peanuts Movie does a great job of getting you invested in its aesthetic, and abandoning that aesthetic has a dramatic effect, and because it’s abandoned for low quality dance music, that effect is completely negative.

It’s an enjoyable movie for Peanuts diehards and maybe for kids who’ve never seen or heard of the comic, but in general it’s just not something most people would want to see more than once.

Leopold Knopp is a formerly professional film critic, licensed massage therapist and journalism student at the University of North Texas. Missouri again? I’ve had a change of heart in regard to reader input. It is now welcomed and encouraged. Like Reel Entropy on Facebook, follow it on Twitter @reelentropy, and shoot questions to reelentropy@gmail.com.

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