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Movie review: Even in 3-D, ‘Peanuts’ is loyal to comic strip

Sophisticated animation and 3-D give new depth to the charming “Peanuts” world.
Sophisticated animation and 3-D give new depth to the charming “Peanuts” world. 20th Century Fox

Beloved, neurotic cartoon kid Charlie Brown hits the biggest screen possible (and in 3-D) in the warm “The Peanuts Movie,” directed by animation vet Steve Martino.

The film pays its utmost respect to artist Charles Schulz, who carefully created a world inhabited only by children, where their dilemmas are treated with high-stakes drama. It meets children on their own terms, but never dumbs it down, exploring the complex emotions of children.

“Peanuts The Movie” cobbles together the main themes of the comic strip to create its story. Charlie (voiced by Noah Schnapp), hapless but persistent, just can’t seem to get anything right.

The simple graphic design that is the hallmark of the “Peanuts” comic fits in well with the 3-D, and the animators seamlessly bring the newsprint line drawings to colorful and creative life. Yet the integrity and feel of the original comic strip is carefully maintained.

“Peanuts the Movie” is extremely faithful to the original source material, but this is aimed at bringing in a new, youthful audience. There’s a homespun charm, with hand drawn hearts exploding over Sally’s head when she spots Linus, or the crayon scrawl that colors Charlie’s cheeks a bright red in embarrassment.

While Charlie Brown is the definition of an insecure worrywart, the feature film not only redeems him in his failures, but rewards the way he reacts to disappointments and challenges.

Time and again, Charlie feels like he messes everything up, but these obstacles offer him opportunities to demonstrate his strength of character – his compassion, honesty and bravery. It’s OK to fail, and everything will work out, as long as you get back up.

Everyone feels like Charlie does sometimes, but the optimism in his persistence is at the core of why “Peanuts” stands the test of time.

‘The Peanuts Movie’

1/2

Cast: Noah Schnapp, Francesca Capaldi, Hadley Belle Miller, Venus Schultheis, Mariel Sheets.

Director: Steve Martino.

Running time: 93 minutes.

Rating: G.

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