Sunday, November 15, 2015

Peanuts In-Depth

When I first saw stills from the newly-released Peanuts CGI movie, I was reminded of the Viewmaster slides I bought this past summer.





To me, the rendering of 2-D characters into 3-D was never successful.  But I saw the Peanuts movie today (in 3D) with my kids, and they came pretty close.

I'm a huge Peanuts fan and have been all my life.  I think I have every Peanuts strip published through various paperback collections.  When I was a kid, we would go to our local Venture store a few times a month.  Venture was a chain of department stores operating in the midwest.  There, I would always pick up a comic paperback, usually Peanuts.  I read those books over and over. So I was leery of the movie, concerned it would stray far from the original, but my kids really wanted to see it.  I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.  Despite falling back on an old, familiar story line (Charlie Brown's unending and unrequited crush on that Little Red-haired girl), it was entertaining and I found myself chuckling more than once.  

Blue Sky Studios, who are best known for their "Ice Age" movie series, produced the movie.  I was afraid the Peanuts gang would be updated and modernized and the movie would throw in some adult or toilet humor, but they took the high road and kept it pure.  I think Charles Schulz would have approved.  Two of his sons were involved, so I'm sure that helped.  The beefs I had with the movie were small and probably only noticed by someone who really knows the Peanuts universe.  Aside from the reused story, the movie showed all the kids in the same classroom.  It's bad enough younger Linus and Sally were in the same classroom as Charlie Brown and Lucy, but Peppermint Patty, Marcie and Franklin were too.  Did they move to the neighborhood?  

The storyline was a little slow, but they broke it up with Snoopy's daydreams of fighting the Red Baron, which I thought were visually the best scenes in the movie.  The odd thing about those scenes was the absence of machine gun sounds when Snoopy and the Red Baron were firing upon each other.  I'm guessing it was left out so they could secure a G rating.

I read one review that complained about the happy ending (I won't spoil it), but I would say even the TV shows and films generally ended with ol' Charlie getting a break.

The voice actors did a good job continuing the general sound of their characters that we've learned to love over the years. Bill Melendez was credited with the sounds of Snoopy and Woodstock. Considering he passed away in 2008, I guess they reused tracks from previous cartoons.  Which reminds me of an early scene that made me smile.  When the Little Red-haired girl moves to the neighborhood, the moving truck said, "Mendelson & Melendez Moving Company", a nod to the original producer and director of the shorts.

Though it seems to be doing fairly well at the box office, the theater we saw it in was nearly empty. If you have kids who like the Peanuts specials, or you grew up on the Peanuts gang like I did, I recommend it.

If the CGI 3D doesn't do it for you, here are some more vintage Peanuts Viewmaster slides.

















4 comments:

FrankO said...

glad to hear you liked it -- if it passed your muster, then they must have remained true. i long ago lost my adoration of peanuts, but i cannot deny the soft spot i hold for them, or deny schultz's artistry and brilliance in creating them.

i did hear something along the lines of that the first thing his sons said to the studio when approached to do the movie was, "if there is one single fart joke or anything that digresses from the core peanuts characters or values, then this whole deal is immediately off."

Tom said...

>i did hear something along the lines of that the first thing his sons said to the studio
>when approached to do the movie was, "if there is one single fart joke or anything
>that digresses from the core peanuts characters or values, then this whole deal is
>immediately off."
In stark contrast to the Chipmunks trailer that we saw before the movie. Every gag was a fart joke. Apparently, Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. wasn't as concerned with his father's franchise.

Alec Semicognito said...

This post send me to eBay, where I found a model used in the making of these V-M reels:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Rare-CHARLIE-BROWN-Peanuts-VIEW-MASTER-Original-Model-Sculpture-Comic-Art-/401021846939?hash=item5d5ec3c59b%3Ag%3AAAwAAOSw5VFWLmd8

Tom said...

That's really cool. I wouldn't have thought those would still be around! Typically, that kind of thing was just tossed after it was used.

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