Peanuts Movie Review

peanutsI tell you guys I am happy, happy, happy right now!  I just got back from seeing The Peanuts Movie and I LOVED it!

I went into Peanuts a little skeptical.  I love the comics and the shorts that have come out over the years especially Great Pumpkin and Charlie Brown Christmas Special.  The thing I love most is the character of Charlie Brown and how he is thoughtful and even depressed at times.  There’s something about that which makes him very relatable and easy to root for.

I guess he is the classic underdog who we all like and a lot of the times he speaks the truth whether it is about materialism at Christmas or the difficulty making friends.  I was worried this  quality of Peanuts would get lost.  I was particularly worried when Blue Sky was the studio involved and when they decided to go the CG route instead of the hand drawn of the shorts. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the trailer so I was nervous walking into the theater.

But I’m telling you they pulled it off.  This film is a complete delight.  I can’t say enough good things about it.

peanuts9Let’s talk about the animation first.  It feels like a hybrid animation like we got in Paperman or Feast.  I saw it in 3D and it looked multi-dimensional but also paper thin, so it had both a 2D and CG look to it.  Mostly it felt like layers and bold colors to the characters we know and love.

It’s so pleasant to look at and the character design down to the squiggly lines of the smiles was perfect while still having it’s own new look. The scenes with Snoopy, Woodstock and the Red Baron looked bright and wistful, like right out of a comic strip or book.

They also got the voice work perfectly without any of the celebrity voices that can be distracting in films like Home.  These are the voices we know from the original shorts.

peanuts7The story is very simple.  It is basically about how Charlie Brown wants to win the attention of a new red-headed girl but he lacks the confidence he needs to even talk to her.  He gets some advice from Lucy and decides he wants to be a winner.

peanuts3On the way he experiences some really sincere and lovely moments of both triumph and success.  They got the tone just right in this movie and I was always hopeful and filled with joy even as Charlie Brown was struggling.

peanuts4The jokes all worked and the kids in my audience were cracking up (and I was too!).  There is absolutely nothing offensive in this film.  It is G rated and deserves a G rating.  You can take any age of kids and I think they will be entertained even small toddlers I think will like it.

I loved the world of the characters.  These are no cell phones or laptops.  These are kids that have to go to the library to look something up, go skating on snow days and participate in school talent shows for fun.  It all felt so innocent and charming. You can tell they had the influence of producers and screenwriters Craig and Bryan Schulz (Charles Schulz’s son and grandson) involved creating a story that will satisfy new viewers and longtime fans.


They have a few songs from Flo Rida, Meghan Trainor but you also get the classic Vince Guaraldi numbers from Charlie Brown Christmas Special and the Christophe Beck score uses Guaraldi as an influence.  Jazz pianist David Benoit helps add to the authentic feel of the score.

Over all, I was completely delighted by this film.  I really don’t have anything negative to say. I guess if you are looking for something new and challenging than this isn’t the film for you.  We got that in Inside Out, which I still think is the better film, but I really did love this film.  They had such a tough task in front of them and congrats Blue Sky!  You pulled it off!

Here’s my youtube review.

Overall Grade- A+ Definitely one of best of year.

Pixar Review 26: Day and Night

Day_&_Night_posterI hope you guys enjoyed my review of Up, my favorite movie.  It was difficult to write but I did my best.  Now for a nice breath of fresh air let’s appreciate Pixar’s delightful animated short Day & Night.

In many ways this short feels like some of the early shorts because it is more special because of the methods they used than the short itself, although the short is charming.  It’s more like a Red’s Dream or Tin Toy where they were clearly stretching their artistic and technical capabilities and trying something new.

The new experiment was not just a hybrid of 2D and CG but telling stories with both mediums in the same shot.  It’s really quite brilliant.  2 years later we would get the  hybrid film Paperman but that’s more of a meshing of the 2 instead of them existing separately within the same story.  For people that are down and depressed about the loss of 2D animation (I know many of you readers are) you should take heart at things like Day and Night.  It’s sign that while we may not see the 2D film from Disney anytime soon a hybrid using both techniques is certainly possible and I think quite likely.

Anyway, Day and Night is directed by Teddy Newton and it stars 2 creatures, one is Day, one is night.  We know this because we can see the world in their bodies from their unique perspectives.

day and night2At first they are kind of fascinated by what’s going on in the others world.  Then they become envious and frustrated, even angry at the things they don’t have.

day and night 13They are also very boastful of the things they have especially Day.

day and night3 But they also learn they can work together and both enjoy experiences like when Night allows Day to enjoy a drive in movie.  The movie on screen is the cowboy scene the puppies are watching in 101 Dalmatians.

day and night4The sound design and mixing by Barney Jones and Tom Myers is first rate in Day and Night.  What’s really neat is the way the 2D and 3D worlds are connected.  For instance, when Night is punching Day each punch is coordinated perfectly with a logger chopping down a tree with an ax. Then when the tree is toppled Day falls to the ground along with the tree.

day and night14What’s so lovely is the creatures go from envy, to teamwork, to seeing life from the other’s perspective and that I think is the true message of Day and Night.  In fact, Dr Wayne Dyer appears as a voice from a radio tower ending with the thought:

“You know, to me, the most beautiful things in all the universe are the most mysterious.”

day and night12I like the message and it’s not as heavy-handed as you might think because it is split up into small bits.  And I like the idea of walking in another’s shoes before judging them.  It’s so important especially in this day and age.

And it looks so lovely.  One of my favorite sequences is them battling out Las Vegas which of course looks better at night!

day and night5I guess if I was to nitpick the oogling over the bikini clad women I Could do without, but it’s not a huge problem for me.

Michael Giacchino did a great job with the music and having just enough of it to be effective without getting in the way of the sound effects.

Is it my favorite Pixar short?  Probably not but I really do like Day and Night.  Definitely worth seeing and I hope we see even more hybrid and 2D elements in future Pixar shorts and films.

Overall Grade- B+