Peanuts: ‘The Movie’ falls flat, the beloved childhood epic doesn’t deliver

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 12.38.53 PMGrade: C
Verdict: Without the punch of the comic strips for adults nor an interesting story for kids, “Peanuts: The Movie” ends up in an odd dead zone.

One key moment defined the new Charlie Brown film to me. A child in the audience I was sitting in asked her father what the “zzz” balloon above a sleeping Snoopy meant. The father quickly explained it before going back to his iPhone.

The movie stays in this dead zone that neither has the humorous, real world punch of the comic strips nor a story interesting enough to a child. In the movie, we see Charlie Brown fail again and again in impressing the new girl in town, but it’s just a collection of anecdotes without any sort of intelligent nor sarcastic commentary on what means to fall in love for the first time – the main plot line. To the little ones, the story seems beaten – they have seen it over and over again, but there’s nothing here that seemed attractive to me that would pull them away from a Pixar or Dreamworks movie.

Even more frustrating, the setup for the joke is always here. In one instance, Charlie Brown begins reading a book that lists 10 steps in order to be a winner. He fails once again and… the movie just moves on to another anecdote connected to the plot of winning the girl. What would have generated a punch in a strip, here’s just another missed opportunity. “Peanuts: The Movie” is just like that friend who starts telling a sensational joke, but either forgets it or stops it because the boss has walked right into the room.

There are good aspects of the film, but they are few. One is the opening, which goes from a drawing on a piece of paper to the actual first scene. It’s a simple and yet touching homage to cartoonist Charles Schultz, for it says that we couldn’t be here now watching this without his amazing imagination and talented hands that created a character loved all around the world.

The voice actors are also a strong point. All characters seem unique and the voice matches well their personalities: the introspect, the lover, the mentor. At no moment a voice seems forced or over acted. Voice acting wise, the movie does extremely well.

For kids, however, it’s a confusing film. First, there’s an awkward double structure: at the same time we are following Charlie’s struggle, we are also seeing Snoopy write a novel about a dog pilot who goes through war in order to save the dog girl of his dreams. I’m not sure a child can connect the metaphor between love and war. I’m almost sure that, even if the connection could be made, it wouldn’t be funny. For adults, the metaphor “love is like a war” may work, but is it something hilarious or something profound? For me, it’s a cheap, overused metaphor that works as neither one.

“Peanuts: The Movie” constantly places the football right on the line for that final point, the punch that will connect us all in our insecurities, failures and doubts, transforming it all into a burst of laughter. Every time, however, the movie takes that ball away and we, like Charlie Brown, fall flat in the grass. The only problem is that our falling is never as funny as the comics are.