Whether it’s the comic strips or the classic movies, Peanuts has spanned generations with its classic characters like Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy, and more. It doesn’t matter your age: at some point in your life, you’ve come in contact with these characters and immediately fell in love. It is the emodiment of great storytelling with a positive message!
If you are like me however, you had your reservations going into this film. I mean, we are living in the time of Hollywood taking childhood favorites and butchering them. Whether it is horrible storytelling, character change, or pushing a political agenda, it seems that many of our childhood favorites get changed in some unforgivable way. On top of that, how would the public react to the new animation? Although The Peanuts Movie didn’t break any box office records, it did very well this opening weekend for a November film and, frankly, the film is very well done. The new style animation is vibrant and fresh while the story still carries the essence of the characters. Hollywood got it right this time!
Charlie Brown can’t seem to get anything right. We all know this, but when a new kid moves into town, he feels that this is the opportunity for him to start fresh. Forget all that he’s done, and set a good impression, simple enough. That is until the new student happens to be the prettiest girl he has ever seen and he can’t even muster the nerves to talk to her. Of all people to ask for advice, he asks Lucy! She naturally tells him that girls love a winner and that he is not a winner. He spends the entire school year attempting to do everything he can to impress this girl while avoiding her like the plague.
In typical Charlie Brown fashion, nothing works out the way he envisions. Even when it appeared that finally his luck had changed (to the shock and awe of Lucy), reality comes back to him (to the relief of Lucy). In between, you have the classic storytelling of Snoopy and his imagination which serves as wonderful and hilarious interludes between scenes. In the end, Charlie finds out that in a school year that he thought was marred with failure, it was more successful than he could have dreamed of.
The Peanuts Movie is a perfectly told story that teaches kids and adults that we are more harsh on ourselves then we ought to be. We can get so lost in the opinions of our critics and our perceived failures that we lose sight of what we really are. Charlie thought he was an “insecure, wishy-washy failure” only to find out that everything he thought he failed at, he actually succeeded. He thought the measure of success was found in winning an award, a contest, a game, or anything else that resulted in a prize. However, success is not measured in that. You can lose every event you participate in and still come out a winner.
Charlie Brown found out that his mess does not define him. It took one person to do something that no one else would do. It took one person to see what no one else could see, not even Charlie himself. I can’t help but look at that and be reminded about how Jesus sees us. When we see nothing but our mess that others remind us of, we ask Him, why did you choose me? It’s because He sees past all of the mess, and actually sees us. It’s then, that we are left the same way Charie was left, with a smile on our face and that feeling that we are actually winners.
The Peanuts Movie is a great film to watch. It is sweet, hilarious, sad, compassionate, and overall, a wonderful story. It honors Schulz and his legacy perfectly. And as Linus says near the end of the film, “It must feel pretty great being Charlie Brown right about now.”