Review: ‘The Peanuts Movie’ preaches to the converted

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

People love Peanuts; to suggest otherwise is like denying baseball or apple pie.

That love is based on the sense of warmth and nostalgia the Peanuts gang provides, which is why generations tune in to “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” every year.

“The Peanuts Movie” takes the quaint humor of Charles Schulz’ characters and blows it up to big screen proportions, and against the odds, it keeps Peanuts’ genial sense of melancholy charm intact.

It doesn’t modernize the gang — Snoopy still bangs away at his typewriter, not a MacBook — and it avoids cluttering the cast with celebrities (children voice the characters). The one concession made for modern audiences is rendering Peanuts’ world in vibrant 3D, but the animators do an admirable job of maintaining the feel of the source material, like using a Tesla engine to power a Model T.

Still, the story is slight and the mild laughs are mostly derived from a sense of familiarity with the material, which at times is too familiar; the film over-relies on fantasy sequences involving Snoopy’s battles with the Red Baron, which pad its brief running time. And the endless suffering of Charlie Brown — “I just came down with a serious case of inadequacy,” he bemoans at one point — will be unfamiliar to today’s children, who aren’t used to that sort of self-loathing from their cartoon heroes.

But this isn’t a movie for children, it’s for parents who find these classic characters as comforting as Linus’ blanket. They’ll cozy up to it because of its antiquated sense of yesteryear, which is what Peanuts do best.

agraham@detroitnews.com

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‘The

Peanuts

Movie’

GRADE: B

Rated G: Nothing objectionable

Running time: 92 minutes