Lovely visual upgrade for the classic while staying faithful to everything
Many in Asia like myself may probably only know this American comic franchise by the name of Snoopy as the iconic beagle has always been the real, and probably the only, reason for the franchise's success. In its origin country, it is simply known as Peanuts, which even the creator Charles M. Schulz hated the name. But whether or not you grew up as a fan of the franchise, it's hard to deny that this film is sweet, innocent and an absolutely valuable entertainment for the children.
Although it may be more relatable to the audiences in the US or Europe, it is almost certain that many of us, at some of time in our lives, were very much like Peanuts' actual protagonist, Charlie Brown (voiced by Noah Schnapp), the average kid who's nice person in general but is always unfortunate and lacks of confidence as he hardly does anything without ruining his or others' day. This movie is like long version of the classic original source -- Charlie being excessively tragic with his bad luck and exaggeratedly low with confidence. From his inability to fly kites to causing trouble to every other characters. It's like Nobita without ever having Doraemon, and that's rather more sad than funny if you put yourself in his shoes.
Directed by Steve Martino (Horton Hears Who, Ice Age: Continental Drift), the film's main story is simply all about Charlie trying to get the attention of his crush, The Little Red-Haired Girl (Francesca Capaldi), by doing all kinds of things with the help and advice from Snoopy and his classmates but never fails to fail every time in various fashion. Whenever he has the chance to just talk to her straight-up, he panics, screws up and hides himself, and yet he never gives up. This may be hilarious back then in short servings but in full 90 minutes like this, Charlie can get a bit annoying and creepy as the film's quick pace make it seem like he's stalking her all the time. However, all the juvenile illogical slapstick humour and patience seeing Charlie suffering throughout the movie are actually quite rewarding in the end with a traditionally pleasant happy ending attached with the moral of the story that's direct and yet doesn't feel too cheesy, which is very unusual these days.
The Charlie Brown part is very educational and relatable for the maturer young audience, and then on the other side of the narrative, there's Charlie's pet dog Snoopy and Woodstock the bird, the cute stuff that the children would most likely enjoy watching. As always, Snoopy is aspired to write a fictional novel about himself being a hero in the World War I and in this film, his writings are depicted in his imaginative fantasies packed with adventure and action in the air flying and battling against The Red Baron to save his love, Fifi. These dream sequences are shown like never before in fun and colourful CGI. With the mix of hand-drawing and full-fledged CGI, the unique visual style of the entire film is quite a spectacle and never leaves a single shot dull.
While the visuals are updated as it probably needed to be, everything seems to be faithful without attempt to be more than its original source and that probably would've been different if the script wasn't written by the original creator's son and grandson, Craig and Bryan Schulz. The film doesn't even feature the mobile device technology we have today or even try to introduce a black character. The voice of Snoopy and Woodstock are made from old recordings by the late Bill Melendez, who was the original voice of these two characters in the series back then. If this isn't a perfect example of a "remake" with utmost respect and heart for the source material, I don't know what is.
Animated short featured: Ice Age: Cosmic Scrat-tastrophe -- Yes, yet another ticklish misadventure of the unfortunate Scrat the squirrel to promote yet another Ice Age sequel. Probably the only reason why I'm not sick of it yet is because I've never seen a single Ice Age film.
Malaysia censorship: 100% children-friendly.
Second opinion: My girlfriend felt that the film is adorable but too long for such a cartoon.
Verdict: Almost the perfect lighthearted classic-style cartoon for kids, especially those between the age of 3 to 12.
Rating: 3 / 5
Based on: "Peanuts" comic strip by Charles M. Schulz
Genre: Animated family comedy
Running Time: 94 minutes
Director: Steve Martino
Screenwriter: Bryan Schulz, Craig Schulz, Cornelius Uliano
Cast: Bill Melendez, Noah Schnapp, Hadley Belle Miller
Malaysia Release Date: 10 December 2015
Local Distributor: 20th Century Fox Malaysia
Production: Blue Sky Studios, 20th Century Fox Animation, Peanuts Worldwide, Feigco Entertainment
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