Blue Sky Animation, the studio behind Ice Age and Rio, have been handed the keys to kingdom for Charles M. Schulz's beloved Peanuts cartoon series, and turned it into a charming 3D animated adventure that kids will love.
Peanuts is a series that has developed a dedicated fanbase over the decades, and the cherished moments within the comic strips each have meaning and memories associated for life-long fans.
Whilst I myself am not overly familiar with the characters, it's easy to see that Snoopy, Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty (amongst others) all have emotional resonance with their audience, and their adventures and musings on childhood in suburban America mean a lot to a lot of people.
This updated and colourful 3D animated film draws heavily on that legacy; the motifs that Blue Sky have used will be instantly recognisable for fans, sometimes right down to the exact same wording or quotes.
This didn't matter so much to me because I've never read a Peanuts comic in my life, and it didn't matter so much to the person I was seeing the film with because they loved the callbacks - but to someone who is hoping for something original or different to the source material, you might be a little unsatisfied.
That being said, Blue Sky do an admirable job of taking these motifs and stitching them together to make a coherent, heartwarming narrative that is loaded with memorable moments and a satisfying finale. The kite-eating tree, Lucy's therapy sessions, the mysterious little red-headed girl; the spirit of Schulz's original vision is alive and well through this new movie. The plot also runs concurrently with a story where Snoopy is imagining himself as a WWI fighter pilot, and the switching back-and-forth keeps the film moving along at a brisk pace.
The animation itself is bright and colourful; it's an inventive mixture of 3D and classic 2D, evoking the look and feel of the original comic strips. The voice acting was also great.
The Verdict: 7/10
Both a satisfying introduction for youngsters and a heartfelt nostalgia trip for fans, The Peanuts Movie isn't overly ambitious in how it handles its characters or material. But, with animation this pretty and writing this fun, it'll be hard for your cynical side to win out.
The Peanuts Movie is in cinemas across Australia now.