"The Peanuts Movie" could have gone one of two ways: Faithful to the core of Charles M. Schulz' comic strip, itself rooted in the 1950s, or retro-modernized, true to the soich for more money. I'm pleased to say it is the former.
Charlie Brown is still wishy-washy, clumsy, self-defeating and insecure as always. But as was the underpinning of Schulz' comic from the start, he never gives up, despite the setbacks he faces every day.
Nobody works harder at failure than Charlie Brown. And no one has more integrity than he does -- a trait that shines through in this wonderful film, which we just saw today.
Charlie finds fame as the one student to achieve a 100% on a standardized test at school -- the closest the modern world penetrates Schulz' comic strip brought to life -- but soon discovers the test he signed wasn't his. And he confesses right away. And that's after he gives up his part in the talent show at school to help his sister avoid humiliation.
It's all noticed by the Little Red-Haired Girl, who comments on his loyal, honest and persistent personality that shines through the patina of failure others and himself paint all over his round little head.
Good nods to the past animation history of the film too, from bringing Bill Melendez in to voice Snoopy and Woodstock, to the Mendelson/Melendez Moving Company that brings the Little Red-Haired Girl into the neighborhood.
And the interludes with Snoopy daydreaming throughout the story are delightful in their execution and subtlety, particularlyl as the crazy dog's adventures mix in with real life (seeing him sneaking across Peppermint Patty's Christmas lights while he imagines himself sneaking across a bridge is pure Schulz magic.
I think that's what makes the show work: Though Schulz passed away fifteen years ago, it's clear those involved with the show wanted him to be there. And he was.