‘The Peanuts Movie’
Director: Steve Martino
Voices of: Noah Schnapp, Bill Melendez
4 (out of 5) Globes
A movie of Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” could go the lowest common denominator cash-cow route and be another “Smurfs” or an “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” It could also go the other way: be a slavish recreation of the storied TV specials that started running in the 1960s. Improbably, mysteriously, “The Peanuts Movie” goes full-on for the latter. A lot of modern mass culture is about dredging up the past, playing to nostalgic streaks that are today, with our man-children and genuflection unto geek junk, never wider. “The Peanuts Movie” actually tries to be the geek junk. There’s a digital makeover, but seeks to play exactly like several old, only slightly refurbished TV specials stitched together over a just-long-enough 90 minutes.
It pretty much, minus some quibbles, gets there too. The film is basically plotless, drifting from episode to episode, most of them related to baldie depresso Charlie Brown (voice of Noah Schnapp, an actual kid, just as in the specials) and his shy pursuit of the fabled “Little Red-Haired Girl” (Francesca Capaldi). Charlie Brown is a little overrepresented, with much of the other gang members — Linus, Lucy, Peppermint Patty, her “sir”-spouting underling Marcie — mostly hanging in the background. Snoopy sometimes takes the reins, filing fairly repetitive chapters in his “Red Baron” saga or, better, unloading his diverse grab-bag of faces, including “nose-upturned imperious,” “tonguey gag reflex,” etc. It’s definitely for kids, but only in the way the specials (and the strip) are for kids, which is to say it taps into something primal and even sad.