‘The Peanuts Movie’ mixes nostalgia, novelty

Nicole Schroeder

Between sharing my last name with one Beethoven-loving boy and the laughable moments that make the original cartoons timeless, it’s really no surprise that my family is infatuated with the Peanuts gang. As a matter of fact, I have yet to find a larger fan of Charlie Brown and his friends than myself, so needless to say, I had high hopes for The Peanuts Movie released by Blue Sky Studios Friday, Nov. 6.
Yet, sitting in the theater and giggling at Charlie Brown’s (Noah Schnapp) comical flops, smiling at Woodstock’s mischievous laughs and listening intently to Linus’ (Alexander Garfin) words of wisdom, I can proudly admit that this adaptation of Charles M. Schulz’s original cast of goofballs went beyond my expectations in pulling off the stories I’d grown to love.
Of course, the Little Red-Haired Girl (Francesca Capaldi), the World War I Flying Ace and the Peanut gang’s ice-skating antics all made their own appearances in the new movie, as they did in many of the well-known TV episodes and comics. But rather than feeling tired or too familiar, the new plots were unique but also brought with them a sense of nostalgia for the older audience members — or at least those of us who knew Charlie Brown for more than Christmas tree hunting and a Thanksgiving meal of toast and pretzel sticks.
Even the characters themselves kept the movie in line with the rest of the Peanuts franchise, rather than allowing it to stray too far from Schulz’s original stories. I can honestly say I both admire and appreciate the care Steve Martino took in casting each of the voice actors in the film, making sure each actor’s portrayal remained true to both the characters’ personalities and those of the previous actors who played in the TV episodes. Schnapp’s portrayal of good ol’ Charlie Brown was especially impressive, considering the weight of such a role for an 11-year-old budding actor.
Not only were the actors well-casted, but scriptwriters Bryan Schulz, Craig Schulz and Cornelius Uliano made sure to work in as many recognizable traits and one-liners for each character as they could, from Linus’ obsession with The Great Pumpkin to Lucy’s (Hadley Belle Miller) famous line, “I’ve been kissed by a dog. I have dog germs.” Such small Easter Eggs were present from opening scene to well into the credits, yet were still just frequent enough to make me squeal in delight rather than in frustration. Many spin-off movies can take this use of one-liners and past quotes to an extreme; yet the Peanuts Movie cast seemed determined to find the happy medium between nostalgic memories and new twists in the story, pulling such a feat off spectacularly.
Thinking back to my hand-me-down collection of Charlie Brown comic strips and the Snoopy artifacts that adorn my room, it isn’t a lie to say this movie was destined to be a sensation or a total flop in my eyes from its beginning. With such an amazing cast and recognizable storyline, though, I’m proud to say it made me laugh, giggle and, yes, cry in all the right places. The message of staying “kind, compassionate, brave and funny” in life is an important one for audience members both young and old, and who better to teach such a message than a timeless group of friends like the Peanuts gang?
It thrills me to say it — this one’s a hit, Charlie Brown.