By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
WHAT'S THE PEANUTS MOVIE ABOUT?
Charlie Brown deals with feelings of inadequacy while trying to impress the “little red-haired girl” who just moved in across the street.
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: A)
I suspect that the late Charles Schulz would be pleased. The Peanuts Movie was written by his son and grandson, and it does justice to the characters and world that he created, serving plenty of nostalgia for fans while offering something wholly satisfying for newcomers and wee ones. The unique animation, playful tone, and peppy pacing keep it interesting, and there's several laugh-out-loud moments. Aside from a bounce house at a town fair and a catchy new pop ditty, this is refreshingly old-school, a callback to simpler, more wholesome times. Best of all is the decency and sweetness of its clumsy protagonist, who emerges here as a sort of unlikely hero. Charlie Brown emerges as a true role model for kids and adults. Forget “good grief,” this flick is just plain good.
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS?
The Peanuts Movie is rated G. During fantasy dogfights with The Red Baron, Snoopy's doghouse is riddled with animated bullets. Lucy throws punches at Snoopy (he ducks them). Children insult Charlie Brown, calling him a “blockhead,” but they're on his side in the end.
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
Kindness, integrity, and compassion are far more important than popularity or winning. Life can be hard and things sometimes won't go your way, don't give up and you will eventually succeed. Charlie Brown had to make hard choices at both the talent show and the assembly: what would you have done?
For another family-friendly flick about kindness and integrity, I highly recommend Babe.
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Licensed marriage and family therapist. Husband. Father. Film critic.