Catholic News Service
Anyone familiar with the perennial TV special “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will know that the “Peanuts” franchise, which began life as a comic strip penned by cartoonist Charles M. Schulz between 1950 and 2000, has a knack for unabashed but also un-bashing spirituality.
That fine tradition continues with the charming animated comedy “The Peanuts Movie.”
Just as blanket-loving Linus succeeds, each year, in pointing small-screen viewers toward the real meaning of Dec. 25, by quoting the Gospel of Luke, so hapless Charlie Brown (voice of Noah Schnapp) teaches moviegoers a lesson about divine providence and the power of prayer at the climax of this latest “Peanuts” outing.
In extending a feature film legacy that dates back to 1971’s “A Boy Named Charlie Brown,” director Steve Martino is scrupulously faithful to the understated tone as well as the tried-and-true chemistry of his source material. It’s a wise decision.
And the pleasure endures as Charlie resumes his pining for his fetching classmate, and seemingly unattainable love interest, the Little Red-Haired Girl (voice of Francesca Capaldi).
Charlie’s fantasy-prone beagle, Snoopy is also pursuing romance. The girl of his daydreams turns out to be a World War I-era aviatrix named Fifi. Snoopy crosses Fifi’s path, of course, while battling his perpetual enemy, German flying ace Manfred von Richthofen (“Curse you, Red Baron!”).
The needless incorporation of 3-D effects leads to an overemphasis on Snoopy’s airborne adventures during which the mild strain of padding the action out to reach the 90-minute mark becomes apparent. Back on the ground, however, top-notch values — including altruism, honesty and loyalty — prevail in a touching story well calculated to win the hearts of old and young alike.
The film contains imaginary combat and some minor peril. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I, general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G, general audiences. All ages admitted.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
– – –