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Cinema Signal: Not quite a green light but has elements of strong appeal for a limited audience. MOBILE version |
. "The Peanuts Movie"

While it's great that this film pays homage to one of our most iconic comic strips and its creator Charles M. Schulz -- a strip that has warmed generations of hearts -- I had hoped for a better adaptation to cinematic art than this. As one of those fans who, since first days as a newspaper reader and for subsequent years of taking my morning coffee with the delights and humanity, victories and disappointments of Schulz's gang, the movie's a letdown.

Technically superior to prior film versions (3D, for one), this is the first feature film made of the legend in 35 years, It may also be considered a salute to the strip's 65 years in print, and the fiftieth anniversary of the TV special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Reasons enough, it would seem, to make the film and expect it to light up the comic universe. To justify that, boxoffice is good and it's pleasing most critics.

All the tropes of the classic strip are here: Charlie Brown's (voiced by Noah Schnapp) dream of being noticed by the Little Red-haired Girl (Francesca Angelucci Capaldi) (a feat that would change his fractured feeling of self-worth), Snoopy (Bill Melendez) taking to his typewriter to record for the ages his prowess against the Red Baron and his hordes and, well, just about every sweetly inspired character Schultz gave us.

The dusty mess that surrounds Pig Pen (AJ Teece) is hilarious and an always dependable laugh generator.

But... director Steve Martino's "panel" style drove me crazy. That is, the movie is composed of brief little episodes -- an endless stream of vignettes to simulate the source material. The style makes the film, at 93 minutes -- normally a tight running time -- seem tiresome, nice tribute though it might be.

Wore me out.

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                                                                              ~~  Jules Brenner  

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