Charlie Brown and his gang have been around since October 2,1950. This much-beloved group of school-aged children, created by genius Charles M. Schulz, called "Peanuts" as a newspaper cartoon, has become a classic, spawning an industry that is still relevant today.


The quintessential underdog, Charlie Brown is brought to life by the voice of ten-year-old Noah Schnapp. The kite-eating tree has scarfed up his latest attempt, and his efforts to improve his pitching are squelched by Snoopy, his ever-faithful pup.


When a new family moves in across the street from Charlie Brown, he sees this as an opportunity to reinvent himself ---- to unburden his haplessness, and become the winner he aspires to be.


The new kid on the block is none other than the infamous Little Red-Haired Girl (voiced by Francesca Capaldi). Charlie Brown is determined to capture her heart, and enlists the rest of his pals, Lucy (voiced by Hadley Miller), Linus (voiced by Alex Garfin) and his little sister, Sally (voiced by Mariel Sheets).


"Peanuts" has always been a huge favorite of mine. I still read the re-printed cartoons in the paper, daily. The animators, led by director Steve Martino, at Blue Sky Studios, the computer animation studio owned by 20th Century Fox, have done an outstanding job of maintaining the look and feel of Schulz's original work.


Artist Tom Everhart, who has shown his larger-than-life renderings of the "Peanuts" ensemble in galleries world wide, was brought in to advise the animators at Blue Sky regarding Schulz's use of black lines. And the CG effects are impressive. The characters are as perfect on screen in 3-D as they are on the printed page, or either the Halloween or Christmas specials.


"The Peanuts Movie" is endearing and greatly entertaining --- for the entire family. Schulz was a master at observation, and managed to take every day moments, and create memorable stories. This sweet homage to his body of work manages to capitalize on Charlie Brown's misfortunes, and give us an experience worth remembering ---- and seeing again.


It's amazing, but some of the best films to date in 2015 have been children-themed, including "Paddington", "Cinderella", "Inside Out", "Shaun the Sheep Movie", and now "The Peanuts Movie". Bravo, filmmakers, keep up the good work!


Opinion: Strong See It Now!




After seeing the first feature-length film in 35 years depicting Charles Schulz's beloved Peanuts characters, I'm sure the late cartoonist is not turning over in his grave. I am sure he's rollicking with delight at the antics created by director Steve Martino ("Ice Age: Continental Drift"), and written by his son Craig and grandson Bryan, along with Cornelius Uliano.


"The Peanuts Movie" proves that every dog has his day, and no, we're not talking Snoopy here, although the loveable beagle does get a ton of screen time. No, it's time for Charlie Brown (voiced by Noah Schnapp) to remake himself with renewed confidence and a more positive image --- well, as much as possible with Lucy (voiced by Hadley Miller) around, the ever-present thorn in his side.


When a new family moves into the house across from Charlie Brown --- including the Little Red-Haired Girl --- the whole gang is curious, including Schroeder, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Sally and Pigpen. When she comes to class for the first time, Charlie is immediately smitten, even blushing at the thought of talking to her.


Any male out there who has ever had to make that dreaded phone call for a first date will appreciate Charlie's reluctance when he goes to the Little Red-Haired Girl's front door to return her pencil. The camera pans onto the doorbell in extreme close-up, and a perspiring Charlie Brown can't bring himself to push it. But that scamp Snoopy can --- hilarious!


For me, the fun of these animated films is always in the quieter moments --- in the classroom, on the bus, at the skating rink. Not so much when the movie turns into a high-velocity action pic, as when Snoopy and the Red Baron battle, although the shots around the Eiffel Tower do feature some spectacular special effects. But thankfully, most of "The Peanuts Movie" revels in subtleties of movement and dialogue that adults will cherish as much as young children will adore the more obvious shenanigans.


The attention to detail is delightful. Whether it's Woodstock, Snoopy's yellow bird companion snow-blowing his nest, or Snoopy getting his finger caught in a 3-ring binder as he tries to fit in with the kids in school. As for the voice talent, it's virtually all unknown kids. The sole adult is Kristen Chenowith as Fifi the poodle, Snoopy's love interest, and even then, she uses conversational sounds, a la the late Bill Menendez does (via taped archives) for Snoopy.


The film would still be a hoot without 3-D, but either way, it definitely merits viewing on the big screen. A repeat visit would also be worthwhile to catch things you will certainly miss. "The Peanuts Movie" celebrates the 65th anniversary of the comic strip which first appeared in 1950. It is highly entertaining and, at times, quite hilarious!


Oh, and if nothing else, there is at least one constant that always draws guffaws --- Lucy pulling the football away when Charlie Brown attempts to kick it. Gotta love that Schulz consistency!


Opinion: Strong See It Now!