Snoopy and Charlie Brown: the Peanuts Movie (2015)
Director: Steve Martino
Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts comics are the only comics I read as a child (apart from the occasional Garfield one). I loved Snoopy's adventures fighting the Red Baron, Charlie Brown's inability to have life meet his expectations, Linus' attachment to his blanket, Lucy's bull-headedness, and so on. As a child the antics of the kids are funny, but it is Snoopy's behaviour that really pulled me in. As an adult, the melancholic humour shines out much more, through the characters awareness (or not) of their failings.
Martino's film was made with the involvement of two of Schulz's children, resulting a tone that is very close to the innocence of the original comics. The narrative is bifurcated, following Charlie Brown's infatuation with the 'Litte Red-Haired Girl,' and Snoopy's imagined adventures with the Red Baron. The second plotline feels added on, having no real bearing on the rest of the film, but it is sweet and does provide a few laughs.
This is one of the more talky children's films I have seen in a while. By that I mean the language used is not dumbed down, particularly when it comes to Linus' character, who at one point gives a stirring speech in class that surely went over the heads of most kids in the cinema audience. However, there is plenty of slapstick to giggle at, and the beloved/hated kite-eating tree makes an appearance.
If you love Peanuts, as I do, there is much to enjoy. Only small gestures have been made to up-dating it for a younger audience, most obvious in the bland pop songs used on the soundtrack. The animation technique works quite well, adding a level of dimensionality to the images, without losing the iconic movements of the characters (the way they lift their heads to laugh or cry; Snoopy's happy dance). Sweet and fun.