Charles M Schulz’s school-age Peanuts crew have been American icons for over half a century. There have been regular TV specials in the States since 1965’s A Charlie Brown Christmas, but this will be their first big screen outing for 35 years. The first Peanuts movie, A Boy Named Charlie Brown was released in 1969. Another three movies followed, concluding in 1980 with Bon Voyage Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!!), which saw the gang travel to Europe, where Snoopy enjoyed a tennis match with Woodstock and was summarily banned from Wimbledon for ungallant on-court behaviour.
Charles M Schulz himself passed away in 2000 – he regularly joins Elvis Presley and John Lennon in Top Ten Money-Making Dead People polls – but the new movie will still remain a family affair, being co-produced and co-written by Schulz’s son Craig and his grandson Bryan (alongside Cornelius Uliano). Even more encouraging is the presence of Bridesmaids and The Heat director Paul Feig on co-producing detail.
The history of traditionally hand-drawn favourites being converted into CGI-realised characters is not a happy one. The once-adored cartoon-strip fat-cat Garfield is now viewed as the epitome of computer-generated, big-screen charmlessness. However, cynicism here is immediately assuaged by the ivory-tickling of Vince Guaraldi’s iconic theme Linus & Lucy. Rather than have Charlie Brown “Humanised” by 21st Century technology, the CGI hasn’t been allowed to alter the classic Peanuts look. Hopefully, a kinder, more compassionate ‘Respect-For-Others’ mindset at Blue Sky won’t lead to Charlie Brown being allowed to finally kick Lucy’s ball before she pulls it away from him.
The trailer gives absolutely nothing away about what lies in store for “Chuck” and “the little kid with the big nose,” as Peppermint Patty would call them, but we’ve a while yet to wait for plot details: it won’t be released in cinemas until October 2015 – just in time to celebrate Charlie Brown’s 65th anniversary. For a pensioner, he’s looking fresher than ever.