Worse things could have happened to the first ‘Peanuts’ movie to be released in cinemas for 35 years. Unlike poor ol’ Charlie Brown, it doesn’t trip up too often. Though any mileage gained by staying true to Charles M Schulz’s gentle, somewhat whitewashed vision of small-town American childhood, is offset by too many overblown 3D action sequences and a batch of truly dire pop tunes.
Charlie is exactly how we left him: inept, unable to fly a kite and still in love with the Little Red-Haired Girl – a romantic interest that barely justifies a three-panel comic strip, never mind a whole movie. But as the wispy story (the script was written by Schulz’s son and grandson) makes its way through a big dance, a terrifying 1,000-word book report and Snoopy’s perpetual feud against WWI German flying ace the Red Baron, the movie begins to feel cosily old-school.
The problem with this fierce loyalty to the source (the film revives the classic Snoopy voice of Bill Melendez, even though he’s been dead for seven years) is that it begins to feel very old-fashioned. Unlike ‘The Lego Movie’ or ‘Paddington’, there seems to have been zero interest in freshening up the material. Just think what Wes Anderson might have done with it.