All original written content is (c) 2015 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed is ©2015 and a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.
NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are.
THIS WEEK: The first digitally-animated big-screen version of Charles Schulz’s beloved comic strip characters. Charlie Brown has a bunch of Charlie-Brown-type things happen to him while trying to impress the Little Red-Haired Girl while Snoopy does his usual Snoopy stuff.
Written by Bryan and Craig Schulz and Cornelius Uliano based on characters and situations created by Charles Schulz. Directed by Steve Martino.
- They didn’t screw it up! Enough digital “rendered-in-the-round” animation to satisfy the trendy and spoiled young ’uns who wouldn’t understand the traditional 2D line-animation of the old cartoons, but enough “linework” directly taken from Schulz’s original art to satisfy the diehard comic geeks and old fogey fans like Pascale. (MIKE: Hey, I heard that!) The objects (rugs, houses, etc.), characters’ hair and Snoopy’s fur look perfectly real but the characters’ faces and Snoopy’s doghouse look like the comic strip. You’d think it shouldn’t work but it does!
- Most every major theme/recurring gag/character trait appears—Schroeder’s piano, Lucy’s Psychiatric Advice Booth, Sally’s “Sweet Baboo” crush on Linus, the WW I Flying Ace, Woodstock’s nest, etc., etc. The “wah-wah” trombone voice for the adults is there as well.
- All the major “original strip” characters are there too: Chuck, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Woodstock, Patty, Violet, Shermy, Franklin, Pig-Pen, Peppermint Patty and Marci. Even Miss Othmar’s voice and Snoopy’s French poodle pal Fifi make an appearance.
- Voices for the most part were close to the “definitive” ones we’ve heard since the first Christmas and Halloween specials and fit the characters, with the exception of Peppermint Patty and Marcie, which weren’t as distinct as the old ones.
- The gags and jokes, by and large, are actually funny! I heard kids and parents laughing out loud. The Psychiatric Booth scene where Lucy explains what girls like and don’t like is friggin’ briliant. And of course, Snoopy’s his usually brilliant and “cool” self, full of fun moments that steal the show.
- The story and gags and most props are as timeless as the strips. None of the kids use a cell phone or mention Facebook or Twitter. In one (hilarious) scene, Charlie actually goes to a (gasp!) library and reads a (double gasp!) book! He uses a pencil, paper and a cartridge pen. Snoopy even uses his trusty typewriter, and the filmmakers do a great job of explaining how he gets it and what it is for the majority of the audience too young to remember one.
- A lot of rapid-fire visual gags to appease the ADD crowd. But enough “deeper stuff” (MIKE: meaning Charlie Brown and Linus’s typical introspection and commentary about life) for the adults and comic-strip fans.
- Great tributes to the original creators: Snoopy’s voice is actually edited from original animator Bill Melendez’s vocal tracks; look for the “Mendelson & Melendez” moving truck and Spark Plug comic book (MIKE: the horse from the Snuffy Smithy strip where Charles Schulz got his “Sparky” nickname as a kid). Vince Giraldi’s “Linus and Lucy” theme is played no less than three times.
- Should be parent-approved in every way. Very positive messages and inspiration for kids in general. No sex or bodily function jokes. (Yes, they call Charlie a “blockhead” several times and Lucy threatens to slug him, but it’s all part of the charm of the strip and characters.)
- There’s a bizarrely funny short at the beginning featuring “Scratch” from Ice Age.
- Buttons and “easter eggs”: make sure you see the opening 20th Century Fox animation and the gag after the main credits. (If you wanna know what happens to the model airplane, stay till the very end after all credits).
About Charles Schulz
- Way too much of the Little Red-Haired Girl’s face! [MIKE: Schulz never showed her in the strip, only once in silhouette.] I know they showed her face in many of the animated shows, but for something this big they shoulda kept the mystery. (Same with the ending, which, while a great message, wasn’t very Schuz-like.)
- There was an odd gap in the school year. It seemed to cut from late winter to Snoopy’s story to early summer without mention of what happened with Charlie Brown’s book report.
- The PC Police will no doubt whine in uproar that Charlie Brown isn’t a mixed-race gay kid or that Lucy isn’t transgender. Sorry! The white kids are white and the romance is all boy-girl. (This is a representation of Schulz’s original strip, not modern society.) But those clueless/sensitive types should appreciate the racial diversity of kids in the school in various crowd scenes.
- The amount of back-and-forth between Charlie Brown’s story and Snoopy’s ongoing WW I battles with the Red Baron might be confusing for some.
Reg’lar readers know I hate kids’ movies but I been readin’ Peanuts since I was a li’l Bru and love the strip. (MIKE: I started when I was five years old with the first Peanuts Treasury hardcover.) This is charming and sweet without being sappy. Highest recommendation. My favorite animated movie of the year! (If this or Minions doesn’t win the Animation Oscar, Hollywood is stupid.) If you have kids, this is one you actually won’t mind watching a half-dozen times with yer kids, and I’m guessing the DVD/Blu-Ray should have some cool extras [MIKE: Like hopefully a documentary on Sparky himself so people can discover his magic!]
P.S.: Real-life Charlie Brown Mike Pascale will try to kick the football while you hold it. He’ll also draw you an awesome piece of original art for a too-low price. Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, mixed-race gay kids, transgender lesbians, PC morons or trombone-speaking adults. Bru would most like to hang out with Pig-Pen. With the kid’s dirty body and Bru’s dirty mind, they’d be unstoppable!