Monday, October 26, 2015

Pumped for Peanuts


Am I the only one I know who's planning on seeing The Peanuts Movie when it opens in theaters in a few weeks?

When I mentioned my desire during a recent outing with my Meetup group, the reaction it caused at the restaurant table were giggles. No, make that laughter...raucous, rollicking belly laughter a lot like Snoopy's trademark "HEE HO HAWS" (accompanied by fingers pointing at me):



Good grief. OK, it wasn't quite like that, but you know what I mean. These are women that wouldn't think twice about taking their kids or grandkids to see Inside Out, Transylvania Hotel 2, or those God-awful obnoxious Minions (no offense to kids and adult minions fans, but I personally find them annoying and think they look like multi-vitamin tablets.) Somehow, though, Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, and the rest of the Peanuts gang aren't quite what you would consider cool  -- or at least, cool enough to shell out money for to see them on the big screen. Too old school, I guess. But in my opinion, old school is cool. 

Maybe it's a generation gap thing. I grew up on Peanuts. I was 3 or 4 years old when I first discovered them, via those Dell paperback books containing several strips that my sisters would read to me. My oldest sister, in fact, insists that I learned to read (with supplementation by Sesame Street and The Electric Company) by going through the books on my own. I was immediately fascinated by Charles Schulz's characters even at my young age; they were kids not that much older than I was with larger than life personalities. I grasped the sense of humor, the heaviness of Linus' musings, the punchlines, and most of all, I felt empathy for Charlie Brown, an underdog who always seemed to be getting kicked by life. I had Peanuts dolls -- including a dress-up Snoopy -- Christmas ornaments, and assorted toys. Peanuts were absolutely a large part of my childhood. 

So if anyone should have any misgivings about a Peanuts reboot circa 2015, it oughta be me. But so far, I don't have any. 



I remember when The Peanuts Movie was first announced a few years ago, there were grumblings and skepticism online by other long-time fans over the fact the movie would be computer generated and in 3D. But I have to say, the more I've seen and heard about the film, the more it looks like the heart and soul of creator Schulz's strip has remained safely intact. Yes, the movie wasn't done in the flat, hand-drawn animation found in all of the TV specials my generation grew up with. But the final product reminds me a lot of something else from my childhood: those View-Master slides that featured three-dimensional Peanuts characters. (Did you know that View-Master is still manufacturing viewers? They can now be used with a smartphone to create virtual reality worlds, but I prefer the reels I grew up on in the '70s.)

Both Schulz's son and grandson are the producers and writers of the movie. That should at least soothe any concerns that the film won't remain true to the spirit of the original strip and TV specials. And the plot is classic Peanuts: the little red-haired girl has moved into the neighborhood, which sets everyone into a tizzy, most of all our hero, Charlie Brown. 



The only thing somewhat new is the addition of Snoopy's girlfriend, an adorable French poodle named Fifi (what is it about the allure of French girls?) (Fifi actually made an appearance in the 1980 TV special Life Is a Circus, Charlie Brown.)

I have read some complaints about the music being used in the trailers -- "Baba O'Reilly" by the Who, for example, doesn't exactly invoke images of Snoopy battling the Red Baron. While some contemporary music is part of the soundtrack, film score composer Christophe Beck -- the same guy behind Frozen -- insists that Vince Guaraldi's trademark melodies are used in several appropriate moments during the running time. Also, archived audio of Bill Melendez was resurrected to preserve Snoopy's and Woodstock's vocalizations. 

My only hope for this movie is that everyone's favorite blockhead finally gets his redemption after all these years; his shining moment of well-deserved glory, a home run and a kiss from the red-headed girl, perhaps? A justification to put his thumbs in his ears, waggle his fingers, and sing, "nah, nah, nah, nah nah nah!" at Lucy and all of the other naysayers. 

Or maybe not. The movie was produced by Schulz's family members, after all. Nonetheless, I'll be watching and hoping, sometime next month. 

Here's the trailer for the film, in case you haven't seen it yet:

4 comments:

  1. I, too, grew up on the Peanuts paperbacks that were hand-me-downs from my older siblings. The movie trailer reassured me that the integrity of Schultz's characters will be maintained. I'll be there will bells on. Minions and the like can take a back seat, thanks.

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  2. Here is what I find interesting about this. The look of this movie reminds me of the Peanuts View Master reels I had as a child. They weren't drawings, but 3-D figures.

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  3. I somehow missed this post back in October. I took my kids to see it and we (adults and kids) enjoyed it. I was worried they would try to interject some toilet humor, but they kept away from that and let Peanuts (and Snoopy) keep its dignity. I made the same connection to the View Master reels.

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    1. Tom - thanks for your comment. I LOVED the movie -- I honestly teared up at the end of it; it was like us original fans finally got to see Charlie Brown get the happy ending and respect that he deserved. Considering Schulz's son wrote the script, I'm not surprised -- had he still been alive, I'm not sure the ending would have gone that way. I loved the fact that the Peanuts world kept the typewriters and rotary phones but didn't include mobile devices, and that they still wrote book reports using pencils and paper! A lot of care was put into the 3D animation to make sure the profiles and details of the Peanuts characters were not lost. I will most likely be buying this one when it's released on DVD.

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