Iconic cartoon anti-hero Charlie Brown and his faithful sidekick Snoopy take to the big screen for a brand new animated adventure – and it looks like love is in the air for both boy and beagle. But guess what? True to form, the course of true love n’er did run smooth…
Good ol’ Charlie Brown. He’s not a boy with crazy ambitions. He doesn’t ask for much. All he wants is to get his darn kite airborne and flying for once. As he grapples with the strings, a miracle happens! The kite is flying! It’s really flying!! But, as Charlie’s luck would have it, it all goes pear-shaped with a comedic catalogue of disasters that results in Charlie tangled up in an unholy heap – and even worse, no-one even saw his kite fly.
If kite-flying is the metaphor for Charlie’s life, then the Kite-Eating Tree is his nemesis. But despite countless knock-backs, does Charlie give up? Never! Try and try again is this fella’s motto. Can he prove he’s a winner, and not the loser the world thinks he is?
Charlie’s life is about to be turned upside down when a new girl joins his class and Charlie is smitten – cue uncontrollable flush of ruddy embarrassment to cheeks. When he discovers that Red-Headed Girl chews on her pencil just like he does, Charlie believes they must be soul mates.
So here’s Charlie’s conundrum: how’s a guy like him “with a serious case of inadequacy” gonna get a gal like that to notice him? He spends the rest of the film – via a talent contest, a school test and a disco – finding out…
Great pains (and input from Charles M Schulz’s son Craig and grandson Bryan who co-wrote and produced the movie) have been made to ensure that the animation is true to the spirit of the original cartoon strip, recreating familiar scenes by the frozen pond and the school yard. The jazzy soundtrack will also strike a familiar chord with die-hard fans of previous animations.
Of course it helps that the cast is like old friends, with all your favourite characters from Linus, the blankie carrying philosopher of the pack, to Peppermint Patty, a champion of girl power who calls Charlie ‘Chuck’. Then there’s Schroeder, Franklin, Pigpen, Sally, and of course, nagging Lucy is always on hand to dole out her personal brand of tough love for 5 cents a pop.
Meanwhile, there’s a whole other adventure going on in Snoopy’s imaginary world, as he battles against the evil Red Baron and conducts his own love story with French fancy, Fifi. And while Charlie may be lacking in self-confidence and swagger, Snoopy has it in spades – with or without his Joe Cool shades.
A heartwarming tale with adorable characters, this is the perfect movie for grown-ups to relive cherished childhood memories with a new generation.
Fun fact The Peanuts universe is solely for kids, so growns-ups are only ever seen from a child’s perspective, ie, from the waist down and talking in an incomprehensible ‘wah wah wah’. The ‘voice’ of Charlie’s class teacher was created on a trombone, with the use of a plunger as a mute.
Did you know? Dreaming of becoming a famous writer, Snoopy invariably begins stories with “It was a dark and stormy night,” a phrase, often-mocked and parodied, written by English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton in the opening sentence of his 1830 novel Paul Clifford. Snoopy also inspired a popular catch-phrase himself, created by Schulz: “Happiness is a warm puppy.”
Themes Friendship, loyalty and triumph of the underdog.
Feel-good factor It’s heartening to see Charlie’s dogged determination (not to mention his bravery and honesty) rewarded in more than one way. Nostalgic parents will also love seeing all their favourite characters from the classic comic strip.
Scare score Big bossy Lucy with her bullying taunts of “loser” and “blockhead” is about as scary as it gets… And even she has to reluctantly agree in the end that Charlie is a likable guy.
Biggest laugh It’s more subtle ‘wry smile’ time than laugh-out-loud, gag-a-minute stuff, but some of the slapstick comedy is amusing if a little predictable. The grown-ups will also enjoy some of the misunderstanding of things the kids overhear from the adult world, like when Linus advises Charlie to write about Leo’s Toy Story by Warren Peace.
The Moral of the Tale If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. And again. And again…
Parenting Motto Expect a teary moment as Charlie looks dreamily out of his window at the brightest star in the sky: “I know that my star will always be there, like a comforting voice saying ‘don’t give up kid.’ Parents: be that star!