Sunday, March 6, 2016

Video review: "The Peanuts Movie"

A lot of people sighed -- or even “Aaauugh!”ed -- upon hearing they were making a feature-length version of Charles Schulz’ beloved “Peanuts” coming strip. The fact it was happening years after his death, and using computer-generated animation instead of traditional hand-drawn, led many to automatically conclude it was an egregious violation of the notoriously shy artist’s wishes.

(I guess the four previous films, forty-five television specials, short-lived TV series, mini-series, motion comics, documentaries, video games and uncountable horde of toys and Snoopy stuff wasn’t enough of a clue on how Schulz felt about merchandising his creation.)

Codswallop. Co-written by Schulz’ son and grandson, “The Peanuts Movie” is a true iteration of the beloved comic strip, with a few modern razzle-dazzles.

This is your father’s Oldsmobile, but with something beefier under the hood and some blingy dubs. It looks shinier than the old TV shows, but the sweet sentiment with an acerbic aftertaste is all there.

Heck, they even brought back Bill Melendez from the dead (via archival recordings) to do the voices of Snoopy and Woodstock.

It’s sort of an origin story/greatest hits of Charlie Brown (voice Noah Schnapp), who gets to meet the mythic Little Red-Haired Girl for the first time when she moves in across the street. The familiar gang is all here: fussbudget Lucy, oddly wise blanket-coddler Linus, Schroeder, Peppermint Patty, Franklin, Marcy, Pig Pen and so on.

Wallflower Charlie embarks on a mission to get the girl’s attention, and through a series of unlikely events actually manages to become the most admired kid at school – for awhile. Meanwhile, Snoopy is off doing imagined(?) battles with the Red Baron, his own lady poodle love in peril.

It’s an engaging story with a gentle message about being yourself and persevering through adversity. Charlie Brown is a self-doubting antihero who fails frequently at his endeavors, but always picks himself back up to give it another try.

He may never connect with that football, but striving at the chance is always better than giving up.

Video extras are pretty decent, though they’re definitely aimed more as entertainment/activities for kids than behind-the-scenes goodies for grownups.

They include bonus snippets of Snoopy; a drawing tutorial; three music videos, two with Meghan Trainor; a behind-the-scenes music video featurette with Trainor; a playlist of familiar Peanuts music; and “You’ll Never Grow Up Charlie Brown,” a documentary about Charles Schulz and the history of the Peanuts gang.

Most of these are available on both the DVD and Blu-ray versions, except for the last three items listed above, which are exclusive to Blu-ray.



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