Good Grief vs. The Red Baron

Fox and Blue Sky Animation capture the Peanut’s soft temperament, recreating Charles Schulz’s clever observations of childhood. The universal personalities which poke from Charlie Brown, Patty, Linus, and Lucy translate into a different, now all-digital medium as well as they did paper.

While generations have been swept up by these characters through repeated holiday specials, The Peanuts Movie acts as a mild reboot (a line which considers this as some sort of superhero story). Mannerisms and catch phrases are intact while the script intends to rope in a younger set with a puppy love story – two, actually.

Snoopy’s persistent presence can be a bit of a blockade. That’s true for Schulz’s saga as a whole, made less about kids than a dog and his bird friend. Modern animation’s obsession with side characters (Minions, Penguins) began in part with this dog. The Peanuts Movie runs with Snoopy’s presence, casting him in his traditional Red Baron saga, disrupting the pace for aerial action. At times these vignettes are lengthy enough to forget where Charlie Brown and his cohorts are. They’re cute, if pointless.

Set that marketable intrusion aside. Peanuts Movie does a slew of things right, particularly in celebrating intelligence and honesty. Like the characters themselves, lessons fall broadly as intended, surrounding the imperfect screw-up that is Charlie Brown. Though perspective sits on Brown’s circumstances as he tries to meet the new girl, the rest of the gang remain prominent too.

Schulz’s broadly applied style means The Peanuts Movie doesn’t feel out of date.

Even in an era of technology, Schulz’s characters remain relevant, a testament to his work and foresight. While they still talk into landline phones and fly kites instead of tapping a touch screen, Schulz’s style means The Peanuts Movie doesn’t feel out of date. These young characters speak equally to adults – pessimists, sports heroes; they fit into everyone’s lives.

It’s easy to be derogatory. Set up and delivery of the film is risk-less. Peanuts Movie avoids the darker side of the comic’s origin, dislodging the cartoon world from any commentary. Blame Snoopy. The approach is modernistic, even swaying into nostalgic, gobbling up the fuzzy feelings and producing something sublimely G-rated. Good luck finding other animation this safe. Shrek, Inside Out, Ice Age, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon; all of them have their snide PG moments. There’s something to be said for ratings-manicured animation, and this is Peanuts’ stand out specialty. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]

Charlie Brown

Taking a flat world and adding (smartly) limited dimensionality, Blue Sky captures the world and these characters. Simplicity of design remains while texture work adds leather cracks in Brown’s shoes, coarseness to Snoopy’s nose, and feathers on Woodstock. Additions are careful and subtle as to not alter the iconic aesthetic.

With the adjustments, lighting effects are used to build stable shadows and otherwise play with light. Not a moment in this movie is dark. Even a nighttime dogfight becomes well lit by spotlights. This gives zest to the color and saturation blossoms. Once winter passes and trees regrow their leaves, it’s a spectacular sight.

Usually, animation is free of technical problems. The Peanuts Movie avoids aliasing and offers a substantial bitrate. And still, there are signs of artifacting. Most of this can be spotted in the shadows of the flesh tones. Near the eight minute mark, Charlie Brown’s head reveals some buzzing noise. It’s difficult to see but there, especially in the darker hues which veer purple. A minor recurring issue, yet an issue nonetheless. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]

Energy coming from this DTS-HD 7.1 mix is all in the planes. A model plane creates a running gag, panning through the soundfield in various directions. Once this gives Snoopy the story idea, he dives into his imagination to generate bass from the engines and additional surround zip. Pans are clean. Dogfights will add in aged bullet sounds which can come from any direction. All of the sweeping overhead motion could have made for an excellent Atmos track.

Charlie Brown’s activities are a bit more mundane. A few stray moments break away from the center into the stereos. Voices barely make the trek. Some gatherings for a talent show and dance do well to envelop the listener. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

The crux of the bonuses are in You Never Grew Up Charlie Brown, split into three sections for 30-minutes total. They steer into EPK territory, focusing on Schulz’s work, the characters, and the adaptation. Snoopy’s Sibling Salute should have been stuffed into the latter, all of two minutes which dissects the closing credits scene. There’s more Snoopy in six snippets, less than three minutes total, the type of bumper animation which used to send kids shows into commercial. Three learn to draw segments and music videos puff up the bonuses without adding much. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

One thought on "The Peanuts Movie Blu-ray Review"

  1. I think this movie honored the spirit of Peanuts very well and serviced the characters better than I expected.

    I agree that the frequent Snoopy side plots disrupted the narrative.

    I hear the UHD version has much more visible texture than the Blu-ray version.

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