Saturday, November 21, 2015

Short Movie Review: The Peanuts Movie

You know, it's hard to imagine a Peanuts movie with its heart more in the right place than this.  It's about as faithful a labor of love as you could hope for, with staggering attention to detail.  And while that's certainly one of its biggest strengths, it's also nearly its downfall.  Issues are obvious from the very beginning, with an opening 20 minutes that's little more than a race to cram as many references and callbacks as possible in, as quickly as possible, with little personality or additions of its own.  The frantic impatient pace seems almost unsustainable... and apparently is, as the second half wobbles in the other direction.  The remainder of the movie slows to a crawl, and despite a genuinely heart-warming ending and a constant parade of stellar animation, it's hard not to feel impatient for the whole exercise to end.

There are very few things wrong with The Peanuts Movie.  But one of those things is that it's dull.  Not "boring" per se.  Just... pleasantly uneventful.  An uneventfulness born of prioritizing integrity over entertainment.  It's not necessarily funny either.  Again, it's not so much that jokes fall flat, it's more that there aren't many to begin with.  A plethora of chuckle-worthy or adorable moments, but few that will elicit laughter.

What it is, however, is sweet.  Utterly earnest, without a cynical or malicious bone in its entire body.  When it fails, it does so because it's so committed to doing justice to its source material, and to being as pleasent and lovable as it can be.  And because it succeeds so wholly at both those things, it's difficult to feel anything but warmth toward it.  Even if it fails to be engaging on its own merits, content to merely be a very pretty greatest hits collection rather than an evolution of its beloved source material.