Charlie Brown feels he must become a winner in order to garner the affection of the new “little red-haired girl” in his class, while Snoopy embarks on an epic, romantic adventure against the Red Baron.
I admit I was wary about a contemporary take on these beloved characters, but I absolutely loved this movie! The animation is crystal clear, without altering the original qualities of the characters, only enhancing them in more vivid color. Each character remains true to form, and I appreciated that even some of the trademark negativity was toned down.
Seeing those familiar scenes: the pond, the school, Charlie Brown’s home, etc., and the wonderful way in which the neighborhood children would stop at each house, calling their friends out to play, made me nostalgic for the simpler way of life now lost to today’s children. It is rare to see a group of children who are able to head down to the neighborhood park together for a pick-up game of baseball, ice skating, or kite flying. Kids today are so over-scheduled and over-protected; we have tamped down the innocence, adventure, and exploration of childhood in favor of control. I wish we could bring back that small sense of freedom within the safe confines of community. (Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now.)
I only found two aspects of the film mildly unsatisfying. First, vignettes from Snoopy’s love story- including his arch nemesis the Red Baron and Fifi, the beautiful dog Snoopy has fallen in love with- took up more time than I considered necessary and seemed a little “out there.” Also, the emphasis on Charlie Brown being “in love” was a central story line, which although treated innocently enough, could have been underplayed a bit more.
What really won me over in this film, though, was the main theme of being accepted and appreciated for who you are, not for who you are trying to be. Charlie Brown, in his attempt to win the attention and affection of the new girl at school, tries to be “a winner” (thanks to Lucy). At every turn, as is always the case with Charlie, he is thwarted, sometimes quite painfully. (At one particularly unbearable scene, I covered my face and cried, “I can’t watch anymore!” It is so hard to see someone work so hard and do everything right, only to have their chance at victory be stripped away and irrevocably destroyed.)
Still, despite all of his failed attempts, Charlie Brown discovers that someone special has indeed seen him for who he is: honest, funny, hard-working, and self-sacrificing. That recognition changes everyone’s perspective about him, even Charlie Brown’s.
This movie delighted all of my children, ages 5-13. Laughter erupted constantly at the familiar Charlie Brown antics and mishaps, as well as the social dynamics among his peers. They especially got a kick out of the adult “voices”- perhaps because they finally found someone who could identify what it is they really hear when they listen to us as parents and teachers. 🙂 I definitely recommend this film for your next family movie night.