Film Review: ‘The Peanuts Movie’

'The Peanuts Movie' Review: 3D Snoopy
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Combining a modern 3D look with old-fashioned storytelling, Blue Sky delivers a 'Peanuts' adaptation that its creator can be proud of.

You’re in love, Charlie Brown (and wouldn’t you know it, so is Snoopy). That’s the simple, slender premise behind “The Peanuts Movie,” Blue Sky’s gorgeous fan’s-best-friend adaptation of a comic strip that is beloved by so many around the world, director Steve Martino’s biggest challenge was simply not to screw it up. The late Charles M. Schulz almost surely would have appreciated the result, which presents a wholesome, goody-goody view of childhood emotional challenges barely advanced since his “li’l folks” first graced the big screen back in 1969’s “A Boy Named Charlie Brown,” apart from the risky move or transforming the cartoonist’s hand-drawn bobble-headed characters into complex computer-generated models of themselves — in 3D, no less. While the old-fashioned story barely feels adequate to fill a half-hour TV special, the new look positions all involved to make as much in tie-ins and merch as they do in ticket sales.

Over the course of nearly 90 minutes, incorrigible romantic Charlie Brown develops a crush on his new neighbor, the otherwise nameless (and until now, virtually faceless) Little Red-Haired Girl, while his high-flying beagle falls for a little pink-haired poodle named Fifi, an entirely new character he imagines rescuing from the Red Baron. Both the boy and his dog set their goals high, though Snoopy has the self-confidence to follow through, while Charlie Brown suffers from near-constant insecurity — feelings exacerbated by longtime rival and resident know-it-all Lucy, who gladly enumerates his shortcomings, only to turn around and offer psychiatric help from her makeshift lemonade stand for a nickel a session.

For those who know the strip well, “The Peanuts Movie” should feel like the first day of a new school year, reunited with a classroom full of familiar faces. With the exception of Fifi (who looks like Snoopy with pink pom-poms stuck to her head and ears), everyone here is a well-established member of the Peanuts ensemble, and though their personalities come across as ever so slightly different (more by virtue of voice casting than by design), the kid characters are performed by actual kids: Noah Schnapp for Charlie Brown, Hadley Belle Miller for Lucy and so on. The grown-ups still speak via muffled trombone, while Snoopy’s and Woodstock’s voices have been resurrected from archival recordings by Bill Melendez, who directed nearly all the “Peanuts” features and TV specials (yet another of the pic’s many strategies for not straying far from the canon).

Over the course of an often-repetitive 50-year run, Schulz’s haiku-like strips were inherently too short to develop much more than recurring dynamics or themes, so in narrative terms, the film is obliged to lean more heavily on the property’s many previous animated incarnations (with certain lines, like Lucy’s disgusted “I’ve been kissed by a dog!,” lifted directly from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”). What will feel like nostalgia for adults should play as fresh to younger auds, as they discover the origin of Snoopy’s Red Baron obsession, his invention of the Flying Ace character and his first appearance in Joe Cool mode. Meanwhile, carrying on futile pursuits that have dogged him for half a century, Charlie Brown struggles to fly his kite, fails to kick his football and repeatedly makes a fool of himself in school.

One can only imagine the countless hours that must have been spent debating every little detail — from script to skin texture, the density of Pigpen’s dust cloud to the bounce of Frieda’s curls — although the creative team has been shrewd enough with nearly every one of its choices that audiences should have no trouble enjoying the film at face value. After all, is there any face in cartoon history more apt than Snoopy’s to answer the classic joke, “What’s black and white and read all over?”

Like most classic jokes, “Peanuts” isn’t so much funny as mildly amusing, which is evidently one of the many aspects of Schulz’s legacy that his son Craig and grandson Bryan fought to protect as screenwriters and producers on the film (presumably trumping their genuinely hilarious collaborator, Paul Feig, also credited as a producer alongside co-writer Cornelius Uliano). But a little modernization wouldn’t have hurt, especially in the diversity department. While Franklin remains Charlie Brown’s only brown friend, a non-white love interest would have been as progressive as Schulz’s tomboyish depiction of Peppermint Patty was back in the day.

From the very outset, following a version of the Fox fanfare delivered by none other than resident piano prodigy Schroeder, the film sets the stage with a hand-doodled snowfall: squiggly black balls loosely sketched in a rectangular frame, which fades from what could be one of Schulz’s comic-strip panels into a pleasant-looking CG alternative. As in “Horton Hears a Who!” (which Martino co-directed), we have entered a dynamic realm directly inspired by a visionary children’s artist, except that this time, instead of replicating the fantastical colors and creatures of Dr. Seuss’ imagination, here we have the stripped-down, hyper-simplified Midwestern world of Charlie Brown, who is himself a glorified circle with ink-spot eyes, bulb-like nose and an unruly curlicue for hair.

It was no small challenge for the Blue Sky team to adapt the handful of expressions and poses Schulz recycled countless times over the course of his career into what are meant to be fully articulated CG character rigs. (The sheer effort involved will be lost on most audiences, even many professionals in the animated community — not unlike last year’s “The Lego Movie,” which innovated in order to simulate the look of crude stop-motion.) Though actual hand-drawn touches do appear on occasion, from floating red hearts to an elaborate animated daydream sequence, the objective was clearly to find a vibrant, visually interesting homologue for fundamentally flat elements, all the while incorporating (or at least paying homage to) Schulz’s signature wobbly lines.

The cartoon that emerges is not only stunning to behold, but also as comforting as a warm puppy (to paraphrase Lucy), the polar opposite of “The Adventures of Tintin,” which committed the grievous design crime of replacing its protagonist’s popular comicbook face with a vaguely human equivalent. Though humans have been playing the “Peanuts” gang onstage since 1967 tuner “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” first bowed Off Broadway, one need only consult Tim O’Brien’s artist’s rendering of a realistic-looking Charlie Brown to confirm why the Blue Sky solution was the way to go onscreen. Still, it’s consistency with the characters’ language and personalities that seems to have mattered most to Schulz’s heirs, who rightly consider Charlie Brown’s long-unrequited romantic obsession with the Little Red-Haired Girl to be the right catalyst to bring his inner optimist to light.

As in his 1969 big-screen debut, Charlie Brown has the opportunity to experience both ends of the popularity spectrum, ranging from class reject to school hero. Early on, Lucy convinces Charlie Brown that if he really wants to impress girls, he has to show them he’s a winner — which is easier said than done for someone with a serious case of inadequacy, translating to a clumsily episodic series of minor life challenges, the most promising of which is a school dance. (It should be said that “The Peanuts Movie” has some of the most disappointing original songs of any “Peanuts” property.) Still, what better lesson for Charlie Brown, grammar-school Sisyphus that he is, than to turn his loser status on its big round head and prove, as his indefatigable creator did by delivering a strip a day all those years, that it’s the courage to continue that counts?

Film Review: 'The Peanuts Movie'

Reviewed at Gaumont screening room, Paris, Oct. 29, 2015. MPAA Rating: G. Running time: 89 MIN.

Production

(Animated) A 20th Century Fox release of a 20th Century Fox Animation presentation of a Blue Sky Studios production. Produced by Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz, Cornelius Uliano, Paul Feig, Michael J. Travers.

Crew

Directed by Steve Martino. Screenplay, Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz, Cornelius Uliano, based on the comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. Camera (color, 3D), Renato Falcao; editor, Randy Trager; music, Christophe Beck; music supervisor, John Houlihan; art diretcor, Nash Dunnigan; supervising sound designer (Dolby Atmos), Randy Thom; supervising sound editors, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Thom; re-recording mixers, Lora Hirschberg, Thom, Leff Lefferts; effects supervisor, Elvira Pinkhas; stereoscopic supervisor, Daniel Abramovich; production manager, Anthony Nisi; CG supervisor, Robert Cavaleri; head of story, Jim Kammerud; supervising animators, Nick Bruno, Scott Carroll; casting, Christian Kaplan.

With

Noah Schnapp, Hadley Belle Miller, Mariel Sheets, Alex Garfin, Francesca Angelucci Capaldi, Venus Omega Schultheis, Rebecca Bloom, Marlieik “Mar Mar” Walker, Noah Johnston, Madisyn Shipman, Anastasia Bredikhina, Micah Revelli, AJ Tecce, William “Alex” Wunsch, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Kristin Chenoweth, Bill Melendez.

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  1. The Peanuts Movie had something missing .Imbalance and that is not Charles Schultz should be remembered.What happened to the Hippa law? Trading health information and personal private memoirs in exchange for money.We will love his genius work and he will be remembered always! Just no more talk of the red haired gal .A negative way to represent a friend as a character that was brought to screen.She doesn’t deserve the limelight through the whole show.

  2. The reviewer is as stupid as they come. Can the PC “diversity” bullshit; it’s Charles M Schulz’s comic, not Nameless SJW Hack’s comic; if it were, it would have been cancelled decades ago.

  3. jdgalt says:

    If you’re going to diversify Peanuts, do an honest job. Show the bullies and low-life as they were in my high school. Especially show which socio-economic and ethnic groups they were, and which groups the students who behaved were. (Hint: the answers were probably the same at your school.)

    I doubt Charlie Brown or the other main characters will choose to hang around with those groups, but they will have to deal with getting bullied. Charlie may succeed in running away, but Linus will not. Beyond there I’ll leave the details to other readers’ imagination.

  4. AdmiralXizor says:

    Fifi was NOT an a new character – she was first seen as Snoopy’s love interest in “Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown” – in 1980

  5. Eagle35 says:

    “Like most classic jokes, “Peanuts” isn’t so much funny as mildly amusing, which is evidently one of the many aspects of Schulz’s legacy that his son Craig and grandson Bryan fought to protect as screenwriters and producers on the film (presumably trumping their genuinely hilarious collaborator, Paul Feig, also credited as a producer alongside co-writer Cornelius Uliano). But a little modernization wouldn’t have hurt, especially in the diversity department. While Franklin remains Charlie Brown’s only brown friend, a non-white love interest would have been as progressive as Schulz’s tomboyish depiction of Peppermint Patty was back in the day.”

    And yet you would then turn around and disparage this diversity as pandering while criticizing the lack of multi-dimensional layers to these politically correct characters and nit-picking any negative stereotype they depict in your “progressive” eyes.

    There is no pleasing you people anymore. If it’s not inclusive, it’s bad. If it’s TOO inclusive, it’s bad.

    Another example of your hypocritical standards is when you bemoan the vanilla sameness of the enterprise itself. It’s too predictable, too “Slender” as you call it, and the characters too plain and old-fashioned.

    But then you would whine and complain about Schultz spinning in his grave if the characters ever made pop culture references, their personalities were more “Contemporary” and the humor Meta and self-aware.

    What do you people want? I’m not even sure anymore.

  6. You are a tool says:

    What a complete waste of print. I consider myself liberal in regards to social issues, people like you are what destroys the true issues in the world. Your trivial “progressive” ideas is more fuel for creating the increasing bifurcation of our social politics. Nice half thought attempt to jump on the destructive PC bandwagon to try and appeal to masses as some sort of englightened individual. You are a completely shallow tool

  7. Mary Mattheiss says:

    Please leave iconic characters created in the 50’s out of the political correctness parade of needing to be diversified. Peanuts does not need to have any other characters to make it ” better”. Peanuts is Peanuts. Leave it alone .

  8. Hi, I’m on a scavenger hunt for the worst movie review ever; I think I found it.

  9. Moses says:

    As a minority, I am saddened and a even little insulted by statements such as “a little modernization wouldn’t have hurt, especially in the diversity department.” Thank you *very* much white people, but really, you don’t have to take care of us by shoehorning diversity into your fictional works, especially into fiction like Peanuts that already have an overt theme of the importance of love, friendship, and equality. Racism and bigotry in America are already going the way of the dinosaur (slowly, but it’s getting there!) *without* your condescending attempts to forcefully pat us on the head and remind us that we’re just as good as majorities, so while your effort are probably well-meant (well, most of the time — it’s often obvious that social justice is often co-opted just to try to market and sell new things to us), they’re neither needed nor wanted. So let’s try to just let everybody move forward on their own, okay? We’re capable of doing that by ourselves nowadays, I promise! Thanks!

    • Diogenes says:

      Don’t worry. Most of us whites don’t want to take care of you. As a matter of fact, we want little to do with you and are tired of people shoehorning you into our works of fiction. The ones responsible for this and those that support it are a very vocal minority.

    • Spot on response. I always thought it was ironic when liberals / the left always said “Only white people have privilege and power”, and “Minorities will never have economic or political gain” – really makes me wonder who the true racists are. They put down non-whites more than any other group.

    • Marie says:

      Thank you.

    • Ron Jeremy says:

      Ah the liberal trope of equating ‘racism’ and ‘bigotry’ with anyone who dares not agree with their worldview.

      And no, what you incorrectly call ‘racism’ and ‘bigotry’ are not going the way of the dinosaur, and thankfully so.

      Peanuts needs no ‘modernization’ or ‘diversity’ to pander to liberal apologists. It is perfect just as Schultz created it. Thankfully the writers and directors left well enough alone.

      Gee, let’s meet Charlie Brown’s new friends; Carlos, and illegal immigrant and Pat, a transgendered pre-operative boy that self-identifies as a woman. Good grief!

  10. Sharon Fitzpatrick says:

    What’s wrong with the little redheaded girl? She maybe pasty white but the redhair DOES make her diverse. Being a 1% minority of the population I’m standing up for her. Quit picking on the little redheaded girl!

  11. VampCass says:

    “But a little modernization wouldn’t have hurt, especially in the diversity department. While Franklin remains Charlie Brown’s only brown friend, a non-white love interest would have been as progressive as Schulz’s tomboyish depiction of Peppermint Patty was back in the day.”

    Are you kidding me Variety? Did you seriously just publish that in a review?

    “Gee, this film sure followed the source material closely, but I wished they changed everything to make it more pandering”

    Pathetic. Who hired you?

  12. Jerry gonsor says:

    Debrew,
    I’ve never heard of you until I saw you on Bill O’Reilly’s show.
    You recommend diversity for an animated character’s girlfriend.
    Libs like you are always preaching political correctness, so excuse my lack of it as I as you-
    Are you a complete retard?
    Writers of animated movies write what they believe children would enjoy. I’m sure they do not consider what some half-ass lib movie critics thinks about diversity.
    The guys here at our Cleveland Fire house despise liberals who push their own agenda using other people’s work.
    After seeing your pic on the O’Reilly Factor-
    We also think you should try to look more like a man…not a smiling weasel.

  13. Dindu Dat says:

    You are the sickening epitome of the modern day Beta Male Racial Cuckold!

  14. Carol Christmas says:

    ‘While Franklin remains Charlie Brown’s only brown friend, a non-white love interest would have been as progressive as Schulz’s tomboyish depiction of Peppermint Patty was back in the day.’

    What does this have to do with how good the movie is? Do you actually get paid to write this?

  15. Hiro says:

    So having the original characters in the movie and not force some interracial relationship because it seems “progressive” is bad now? This article is pretty offending towards white people in my opinion since you want to get rid of them so badly in movies nowadays. Btw, I’m not even white, this whole leftist bullshit just seems wrong to me.

  16. Hey Variety, I have a pitch for you:
    A Shaka-Zulu reboot, starring Elijah Wood.

    Oh wait, that would be “racist” instead of “diversity”.

  17. Sorry, but it’s 2015. We’re all aware of this scam going on to promote “diversity” when it’s been thoroughly debunked so many times. For example; Hispanics are a larger minority in society yet lack any kind of “diverse” representation since the agenda is to default to african americans.

    Like I said, it’s 2015. Nobody falls for this anymore.

  18. zulgaines says:

    You people won’t be happy until everything is ripped apart and turned brown.

  19. Dave says:

    WOAHHH your right! Why not add some Chinese kids too! And Indians!! Honestly let’s just change the whole cast! Too many whites!!

    You can’t kill reality. Anyone who agrees with this page needs to get out of their “safe space” the world isn’t your liberal arts college campus. No one thinks this idea sounds progressive or cultural, it sounds plain stupid.

    How about a white Bill Cosby reboot? Oh, does that offend you? South Park is exposing your PC culture and will tear down ideology you call “progressive.”

  20. Ethan Page says:

    No Black Love Interests! Let’s not ruin Peanuts shall we?

  21. Nice try on the diversification opinion but no. The producers spent months remaining loyal to the original Peanuts narrative with incredible scrutiny and detail, something that the IP holders demanded (and should). As with all works of art, the Peanuts universe should not be altered in anyway, regardless of any pc stupidity from this dumb writer.

    • timgray2013 says:

      This “dumb writer” has offered up a very thoughtful and informative review, but the online commenters have fixated on one phrase. Charles M. Schulz created the character of Franklin in 1968, which was considered daring. Who knows what Schulz might have created/wanted by now? It’s an interesting question, but it’s also interesting to see how some readers are obsessing over this, always with anger.
      Tim Gray, Variety senior VP

      • “but it’s also interesting to see how some readers are obsessing over this, always with anger.”

        Are you serious? This is Charlie Brown, not Bubble Guppies or Dora the Explorer! It’s coming off as anger because you PC robots insist on trashing every simple thing out there. And the fact that you’re now calling Charlie Brown racist is equivalent to calling ME racist for not marrying a black man…no matter how I would feel about him in the first place. He may be HOT, but what if I didn’t have feelings for him? Oh, that’s racist according to asshats like you who obsess over skin color.

        Get over it already! It’s insulting to EVERYONE!

      • VampCass says:

        Senior VP? So you’re the one to blame for this terrible review?

      • Jerry says:

        Maybe that is because we are so friggen tired of it all.

      • metalslug says:

        it doesn’t matter what he would have wanted then, this is an adaptation of what he created. Besides we can’t just ask Schulz of what he wanted because he’s dead so its safer to take after him not just assume what he wanted you doughnut

      • Tim says:

        Man, get outta here. This is bullshit and you know it

      • Asuka says:

        As a “senior VP,” are you familiar with the raison d’être of your own publication? Since you encourage deviation from your publication’s focus, do you extend the same “journalistic discretion” to writers while they cover other topics? Can we trust Variety to be fair in all its coverage given that you clearly feel that Variety writers should editorialize?

  22. Al Bedo says:

    I concur with your racial view, comrade Debruge. Art should reflect our struggle!.

  23. Steven says:

    Really? Regarding the charlie brown love interest. The left is running amok. By being so silly you lose credibility. So sad.

  24. Asuka says:

    THE PEANUTS MOVIE? Really? Can’t a cartoon just be a cartoon, not yet another opportunity to foist your agenda on small children? Is everything to be used as a propaganda tool? Is there anything that the progressive left won’t try to politicize? Is there any limit to white progressive guilt? Don’t bother replying – I know the answers.

  25. Jimmie says:

    I believe there was a poodle named Fifi that belonged to a circus act that Snoopy fell in love with in a older cartoon. They had a trapeze act together. Snoopy was colored pink.

  26. DJazz says:

    Fortunately, the silent majority does not live in a bubble of a PC pixie-dusted white guilt liberal fantasy world. Sure, there are an extreme few interracial couples, but they are not the main stream. Most races date and marry their own races. That’s the reality. When does the insanity stop? What’s next? Mandating that our next president have a spouse of a different race because it’s the 21st Century? Why would that idiocy not be any different? That in and of itself is EXACTLY what racism is!

    We, the people, are getting sick of all this PC nonsense shoved down our throats, in this case hidden under the guise of a cartoon being outdated from the segregated 1950s. There is a reason why the state of Hollywood is in such decay over the past 25 years, as is TV. People are SICK AND TIRED of being lectured to and vote with their wallets. Just when I thought I had read the most idiotic liberal column of the week already, along comes this gem. I’m surprised Drudge hasn’t picked this up.

  27. ejazzyjeff says:

    I’m finally glad to see a lot of other people get just as irate as I when PC is crammed down our throats. It is going to be funny how (hopefully) this non-PC movie just blows out the box office, proving just again that the average person is tired on PC and just want to see the movie, you should learn from them Muppets!!!

  28. Maybe they should have had Charlie, Peppermint Patty and Franklin in a hot-tub threesome, eh? That would have covered the race issue, the war on women issue and the gay issue.

    Get over your childish P.C. nonsense, will ya?

  29. energyman says:

    Darn social justice warriors.This is why South Park has been mocking you so much this season. Save your PC propaganda for the democratic national convention. This is a kids movie for crying out loud.

  30. Can I be a cry baby too? I want a white kid on Fat Albert and other black cartoons. I am sorry for you. You must be absolutely paranoid and if you dont find something racist you go out looking for it. Peanuts is a classic. It doesnt need to be changed. Racism has nothing to do with flags and cartoons. If children can not be raised to tell the diference between reality and a cartoon that is a shame. My kid is a blonde haired blue eyed kid but not not racist at all. It has to with the way he was raised. You can whitewash everything in American Culture racism would not ever go away.

  31. warrenjasonstreet says:

    No, no, no, and no again.

    Peanuts was a dark, miserable strip and there’s no misery here. There’s just marketing, marketing, and marketing.

    Schulz would have hated this film, sight unseen, and he would have disowned his children for acquiescing to this abomination. Oh, sure. He would have cashed the checks. But this film perverts the legacy of the strip in ways only a salesman would love.

  32. Occultology says:

    You are not a movie reviewer, you are a minister of propaganda.

  33. Big Dumb Ape says:

    The reason people are reacting so strongly to the one sentence saying that the movie would have been better or hipper (or whatever word you want to use) if Charlie Brown had a “non-white” love interest is because (1) that has NOTHING to do with the movie itself, so (2) that notion literally screams out at the average person and causes them to groan given its obvious eye-rolling, lecture-some PC intent. Because once again it’s this silly progressive ideal raising its head, to the point where people can’t even enjoy a freaking cartoon these days unless it is PC driven.

    The other reason people are reacting strongly is because this same PC notion is constantly being rammed down everyone’s throats, to the point that you feel you can’t get away from it. Because it feels like Hollywood has gone crazy feeling it has to lecture everyone on what liberal Hollywood wants to promote — the viewing audience be darned. A perfect example — the new SUPERGIRL tv show where they not only felt the compelling need to turn classic comic book character Jimmy Olsen into a black male, but — as the icing on the cake — when another character (Winn, who is white) showed his attraction to Kara (the white female lead) and hinted at his crush by explaining that when you meet someone “special” you feel a “ka-pow in your stomach” — sure enough — she ignores Winn, but smiles sexily and says “ka-Pow” when she meets new, black Jimmy Olsen. In short, the producers not only had to make a classic white character black, but introduce an interracial romance in the same breath.

    And to be honest, since they went that route, I was actually shocked that they didn’t make the Winn character gay while they were at it. Because then the producers would have been firing on ALL the groan inducing, eye-rolling, required PC cylinders for any current movie or TV show.

  34. Victor Field says:

    That most of the responses so far are from people complaining about one pro-diversity sentence says more about them than the reviewer.

    • Eagle35 says:

      Ever read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Victor?

      Amongst many of the books themes like television driving the ruination of critical thought, it’s also about the fear of offending minorities so the mainstream start editing out all the Politically Incorrect, Offensive material from books as a whole until nothing remains but a tapioca pudding trifecta of blandness.

      This is what you, and others like yourself, are preaching. That we start changing things, like films, so as not to rankle the PC sensibilities of people like you. Keep everyone “Happy”.

      I don’t want to live in that world. I’ll take The Peanuts Movie as is over something like “The Peanuts Diversity Quota Hour” any day.

    • No Victor. It’s not about being “pro-diversity.” It’s about being true to the Charlie Brown character, and this nonsense of coming thisclose to calling anyone who actually liked Peanuts, a racist, because he always had a crush on a little red haired girl instead of a black girl.

      Why inject race into it, when it’s JUST A FREAKING CARTOON????? People are sick & tried of political correctness being shoved into everything. THAT’S what it says about the responses!

    • JSA says:

      No Victor, it does not. It’s a cartoon. “Progressive” or “Conservative” have no place. And you seem to be a pompous, judgmental fool. Like the reviewer. THAT”S what these people are railing about. Being lectured and having ANY values jammed up their poop in a cartoon. Says everything about you that you defend this claptrap.

  35. Gerard says:

    “Movies don’t always have to push your liberal fantasies Peter”

    I completely agree! What the heck is wrong with just liking the movie for what it is. Those creepy liberals ALWAYS have to whine and complain about just ANYthing.

    Come on, het a Life, it’s a movie, a kids movie not some kinda political propaganda. Please keep it that way. If everything has to be propaganda, please buy a ticket to North Korea and let us just enjoy life as it is!

    • Susan says:

      I’m a liberal and even I think it’s getting crazy. The Civil Rights Movement was about equal rights for all, not about dictating who people should be in relationships with. Now children programming has to be rewritten because two white people in a relationship is not modern or progressive?

      Enough already.

  36. jon says:

    Movies don’t always have to push your liberal fantasies Peter.

  37. TC Templeton says:

    When film critics become social justice warriors, it’s pretty sad. I pity the person looking at life and art through the cultural Marxist lens.

  38. Marie says:

    Not everything needs to change or have diversity. My god, what it with the PC obsession of today?

  39. me says:

    I’ve read many, many stupid comments in my life. To suggest an interracial romance – for absolutely no reason whatsoever – is perhaps the stupidest one yet.

  40. david says:

    Thankfully it sounds like they got it right!!! The trailers were encouraging so it’s great to hear a strong review.

    For many people like myself, Peanuts is sacred cartoon ground and initially I thought they would never do this justice and try to go with a PG rating and updates to make it modern.

    It may sound corny to a lot of people who don’t get it, but every year my dad and I would watch A Charlie Brown Christmas as our yearly celebration. I get choked up just thinking about how much I will miss that ritual now that he’s gone.

    To ALL involve in this production – THANK YOU!!!!

  41. HPR says:

    You’re a reviewer, not the PC police. Yawn.

  42. Chizz says:

    A non-white love interest?? Yeah, Peanuts lack of “diversity” is obviously racist by 21st Century standards, standards that a clown like Debruge is only happy to uphold.

  43. riesen2b says:

    Your suggestion that Charlie Brown fall for a different ethnicity while being a bold progressive move, would somehow seem totally out of place in this movie. The history of Charlie Brown has always been his infatuation with the redheaded girl and to have it any other way would have outraged those who are fans of his legacy. I am all for interracial relationships, since my wife and I are of different races, but not for Charlie Brown. I could see it with another character where a past history had not been established.

    • Peter Debruge says:

      Thanks for engaging with the suggestion as something more than political correctness. This is 2015, and there are mixed-race couples (and friendships) all around in real life, but “The Peanuts Movie” gives young audiences scant examples, preferring to stay wedged in the nearly segregated world of the ’50s, while throwing in a bad Flo Rida song for some sort of contemporary hipness quotient. I didn’t honestly expect the film to go that direction, but I do think it’s within a critic’s right/duty to raise such issues.

      Also, for the record (since others seem to have misread my intention), the Peppermint Patty comparison references the fact that Schulz was challenging gender norms of the time when defining her character as a better athlete than Charlie Brown, deliberately creating a role model for girls who might want to play sports in the process.

      • Eagle35 says:

        Mister Debridge, why don’t you just chill out, okay?

        Not everything has to be a political battle or need to have a grand political statement. And I don’t think Schultz himself would appreciate you devaluing his work all because it doesn’t fit your Politically Correct agenda.

        This is an animated movie about kids and a beagle that flies A World War Two Aircraft chasing after The Red Baron in his head. It’s not a Potpourri of Progressive or Regressive attitudes. IT’S. AN. ANIMATED. MOVIE! For young and old alike.

        I’m all for diversity but Holy Equity Quota, Batman, put away the outrage utility belt.

      • Andrew says:

        Did you really just call Peanuts segregated? You’ve got a lot of nerve, Mr. Debruge.

      • Robbie says:

        Debruge, give it up. Over 50 comments and not ONE SINGLE PERSON has agreed with you. Sack up and learn from your mistakes, don’t keep digging the hole deeper.

      • Here’s the problem. Charlie Brown has ALWAYS had a thing for that little red haired girl. Why change that, just to pander to politically correct butthurts? It has nothing to do with challenging social norms. This isn’t a sociology college course, IT’S FREAKING CHARLIE BROWN!!!!

      • Asuka says:

        “But I do think it’s within a critic’s right/duty to raise such issues.” Unless Variety has switched formats and reassigned you to its newly formed political corps, it’s not your “duty” to do anything but critique films as pieces of art. As a MOVIE critic, please base your reviews on the artistic merits (or lack there of) of the work, not on its conformation to your personal political agenda. You seem uncertain about what a critic does; perhaps Variety should employ someone who is free of your confusion.

      • JSA says:

        Pompous, haughty and self righteous claptrap. Go work at The Nation and serve the size audience that likes being preached to at a cartoon showing or reading a cartoon review. Your defense is as silly as your article. Scant examples? THEY”RE KIDS!!! They’re allowed to not have ANY values jammed down their throat for 2 hours. You must be a hoot to have a beer with. Or is that insensitive to Chablis drinkers and I now need training to correct my jingoistic mindset?

      • Did you just literally use the “meme” answer for this being 2015? What does that have anything to do with the fact that your definition of “progressive” is backwards, offensive in itself for non-white people and, no offense dude, but really dumb.

  44. Johnny Argon says:

    bwahahahah
    Playing the race card in a movie review of a live action comic strip will most assuredly have you mentioned in the same breath as Roger Ebert

  45. John Th says:

    “But a little modernization wouldn’t have hurt, especially in the diversity department. ”

    Ahh, shut up. It’s a kids movie…stop injecting your political correctness into everything.

  46. Lee Mastroddi says:

    Noah Shnapp (not Schapps – maybe you can correct?), who does the voice of Charlie Brown, can also currently be seen playing the son of Tom Hanks’ character in Bridge of Spies.

  47. riesen2b says:

    I just love spam. Not!

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