The Peanuts Movie review: ‘As boring and unfunny as ever’

13:00 11 December 2015

The Peanuts Movie. Picture: 20th Century Fox

The Peanuts Movie. Picture: 20th Century Fox

Archant

It may use CGI, but by maintaining the air of its ‘50s bubble, the Peanuts movie is a faithful resizing of the TV show, says Michael Joyce.

Snoopy and Charlie Brown: I thought those two had packed it in years ago, had gracefully retired when The Simpsons got big. But now they’re back in a full length animated film from the makers of The Ice Age films. It’s all CGI and 3D of course but rest assured this is the same, beloved Peanuts that have charmed readers and viewers for 65 years: it’s just as boring and unfunny as it ever was.

I have always hated Peanuts. When I was kid you couldn’t move for Snoopy memorabilia (either that or “Love Is...” tat), while the children’s TV schedule was bunged up with those half hour cartoons with titles like “You’re A Loser, Charlie Brown,” “You’re A HUAC snitch, Charlie Brown,” or “It’s a Charlie Brown Martin Luther King Day.” I really don’t see what people love about that bulbous headed wimp with the Homer Simpson hair do; his smarmy, turncoat dog and all the other wailing kids.

This is a remarkably faithful update. Snoopy is still fighting the Red Barron and Charlie is still failing to fly kites and getting shy and tongue tied around girls. No big narrative has been imposed upon them, the plot is just as episodic and aimless as the half hour episodes. It is computer animated but only just enough to make it a viable modern day proposition. The kids now look very much like characters in the original Magic Roundabout TV series, while most of the time Snoopy and Woodstock look hand drawn. This modern day Peanuts isn’t going to trample all over anyone’s treasured memories but I can’t see it really engaging with a new generation.

Like Bart, Lisa, Kyle and Cartman, the Peanut kids are stuck in an eternal childhood from which they can never escape. The difference is that while The Simpsons and South Park are allowed to drift through the years, the Peanut childhood is always the ‘50s, and so the film is mercifully free of contemporary references – Snoopy doesn’t do any Djing and nobody says “My Bad.” The downside is that it is vacuum sealed; nothing new has been allowed to infect it, fearing perhaps that the slightest breath of fresh air could cause it to disintegrate.

Rating: 2/5 stars

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