Though it fails to leave a distinct lasting impression, this passionate attempt to renew big-screen interest in the legendary comic strip Peanuts has nevertheless survived its latest transition mostly in tact. Free of the hamfisted pop-culture references that colour far too many adaptations of this type, director Steve Martino (Horton Hears A Who!, Ice Age: Continental Drift) has teamed with original cartoonist Charles Monroe Schulz’s son and grandson for a simple if energetic and beautifully-animated romp.
Charlie Brown is crushing hard on the Little Red-Haired Girl who has moved into the neighbourhood, and embarks on a number of zany schemes in order to get noticed by her, all while his canine buddy Snoopy writes a story about his World War I-era showdown against the villainous fighter pilot The Red Baron, who has captured his love, Fifi.
Somewhat true to its bite-sized source material, this film is essentially a chaotically scattershot series of skits loosely linked to one another via a plot you probably won’t remember in a week. If the film’s major weakness is that it’s overall rather inconsequential and forgettable, it’s at least charming enough to make the outing enjoyable.
Pic avoids many of the pitfalls that assail similar movies; the adult jokes are present without being crude for one, and there are some clever nods to many facets of modern living for beleaguered parents in the audience. It may not add up to a whole lot – for one the overflow of wit present in most of Pixar’s movies is sorely lacking – but still, you could do much worse for your kids (especially with the impending arrival of yet another Chipmunks movie).
It looks terrific (even if it’s rather strange how much work has been put into giving the film a vintage claymation-esque look) and keeps firing the gags out thick and fast, darting between Charlie’s attempts to woo the object of his affection and Snoopy’s own fantasy narrative, powering forward at a confident clip for its undemanding 88-minute run-time.
It’s not a classic by any means and likely won’t stick with adults or kids for very long, but it’s enjoyable while you’re watching it, which sometimes is just enough to satisfy.
The Peanuts Movie is in US cinemas now and UK cinemas December 21st