Nostalgia seems is an easy way to win favour with audiences these days – place something that evokes those rosy memories of days gone by back on screen, and the crowds are sure to roll in, wanting to relive simpler, happier times.
But while many nostalgia-driven revisits wish to return to the days of old, before a time one could be reachable at any hour of the day and the world collectively became a whole lot less innocent, few are successful. In fact, many feel the need to insert some type of up-to-the-minute quality, whether it be latest technology or internet-ready references.
Enter Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie. The popular comic strip by Charles Schulz has always grounded itself in the simple pleasures and even sad parts of of life. After all, all Charlie Brown wants is to fly a kite, and he somehow remains optimistic despite his constant suffering. Him and his friends stay in a perpetual state of childhood, which is sometimes melancholic and other times joyful, enjoying endless snow days and baseball games while the world changed around them, giving a sense of escapism. For The Peanuts Movie to channel anything more than this utterly uncomplicated worldview would have been a mistake.
But luckily, it doesn’t. The complete lack of reinvention involved in the film, simply a 90 minute retreading of the comic’s most popular plot points including The Little Red Head Girl and indeed Charlie Brown’s pursuit to fly a kite, could lead to the film being something much less fresh and entertaining. Instead, this commitment to the simple nostalgia that made the comics so beloved is why the film works. The only thing that hints at a time removed from when the comics were being originally published is the computer generated animation, a surprising (after all, Peanuts is remembered partly for those two dimensional sketches) but nonetheless visually beautiful approach. But Lucy is still selling psychiatric advice for 5 cents, and yes, that beautiful Vince Guaraldi music is still there. As with anything that is based on a property that was limited to four small drawings a day, the momentum starts to peter out by the end of its tight runtime, but this small window into a much more simple time that has gone unspoiled by the world is an utter delight.