The comic strip Peanuts made its debut 65 years ago, and has had various animated adaptations since – the first feature-length film was A Boy Named Charlie Brown in 1969, and was followed by the superior Snoopy Come Home in 1972 and further sequels, although the most memorable screen appearances of creator Charles M Schulz’s peculiar children with grown-up concerns are the holiday-themed shorts like A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Stretching what has usually been a four-panel, deliberately simplistic piece of work to anything beyond half an hour has always been a challenge, and while this latest attempt suffers from feeling a little sparse in terms of content, it still manages to capture what makes the original work such an intriguing oddity.

It’s a humble, unambitious film,¬†sweetly nostalgic for anyone who grew up with these characters, helped by an animation style that harkens back to the old 2D way of doing things, and retaining the infectious score that previous adaptations have always used. It’s not quite as pessimistic as the comic strip sometimes got in its darker moments, but it makes a point of stressing the importance of failure – a message rarely communicated to children through popular culture. It ignores a few of the more memorable devices Schulz took pains to drag out – the Little Red-Haired Girl is openly portrayed here (she was never shown in the comic strip), and the running gag about Peppermint Patty being convinced that Snoopy is a normal child with a big nose seems to have been sadly excised – and its gender politics feel a little outdated, but there’s a timeless nature to Charlie Brown and his friends that transcends such issues.

The ability of Charlie Brown and his friends to transcend generational appeal9
The ability of Charlie Brown and his friends to carry a feature-length film6
The decision to retain the old-school jazz pianist score8
The decision to ignore some of Schulz's best devices6
Some dated and rather questionable gender politics4
Bechdel Test Passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The named female characters talk to each other
  • They talk about something other than men
Bechdel Test Failures
  • n/a
7Overall Score

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