The Peanuts Movie is a film that I was looking forward to seeing in the theatre since it was released last month. I’ve been a Peanuts comic strip fan ever since I could read. I had no idea what the movie was about but I was excited to go to the theatre with my kids and our friends. It’s not often that we all get together, so this was truly an event. I had purchased theatre packages from Costco for all of us earlier in the week that included the admission ticket, popcorn, and drinks so we managed to save a couple of bucks.
Right from the start of the movie I noticed that the cartoon style and even the character’s voices remained true to the original TV specials and I loved the “flashbacks”. The movie takes place over a six-month period and focussed on Charlie Brown’s crush on the Little Red-Haired Girl. There was a subplot with Snoopy as the Red Baron which was just plain boring, causing kids (and some adults) to zone out.
Charlie Brown is too shy to approach his crush, and he pays five cents for psychiatric help at the stand that Lucy, the sister of his best friend Linus, runs in front of her house. Lucy tells him he needs to be confident and gives him a book: 10 Ways to Be a Winner. We still don’t know the Little Red-Haired Girl’s name, but we watched as Charlie Brown did what he could to make himself successful so that she would notice him. I thought this movie would be lighthearted fun, but I empathized so strongly with Charlie Brown that it made me feel extremely sad. The bright spot of the movie was at the end, which came as a total surprise to me. Charlie Brown had not said one word to the Little Red-Haired Girl throughout the entire movie (and he never did in the comic series either), but on the last day of school, she chose him to be her summer penpal. Right before she left for summer camp, he finally mustered the courage to approach her and ask why she picked him. She replied that she admired all of his qualities that she had observed, shocking all of his classmates, who hadn’t been very nice to him.
For a children’s movie, I’d have to say it was pretty deep. All my life, I have identified with Charlie Brown. Although I was never a bald-headed boy with a dog, I had very few friends and was not good at sports. As I watched this cartoon character struggle with his insecurities and bravely try to get a little girl to notice him, I was overcome with emotion. Maybe the reason Peanuts has stood the test of time is because we all have a bit of Charlie Brown in us.