Anyone who knows my mother even in the slightest knows she loves Peanuts. No one ever has trouble shopping for her because they know if it’s Peanuts, she’ll love it–the only trouble they do have is guessing at whether or not she already has something. So when The Peanuts Movie was first announced, it was a big deal for her. We’d send her trailer and promos and joke about how she was gonna co-opt Brandon’s birthday to go see it.
She texted me after work one day asking me to call her. When I did, she explained that her best friend wanted to see the movie the Saturday it came out, and I couldn’t go because of my weekend rotation. Her best friend’s schedule didn’t fit with the 3D showtimes, so my mom wanted to know if I would go with her a second time at a later date so she’d get to see it in 3D.
“What if it’s terrible and you don’t like it?” I joked.
“I don’t think that’ll happen,” she said.
It didn’t. After allowing myself a free, chill weekend last week and another open weekend this week, I asked if she’d want to go see it, so we settled on a trip out to Greensburg–the nicer of the local theaters–for an 11 a.m. screening.
I figured we’d be the only ones in there since it was early and the movie’s been out a few weeks. I was right. But I like that.
My brother had reported that my mom and her friend had laughed louder at any of the gags than anybody else in the theater, which I believe. She laughed the second time around, too, and I laughed with her–it was really a cute, funny movie.
The thing about being raised by a die-hard Snoopy lover is that I know all things Snoopy, too. I know some people didn’t like the movie for this reason, but the film was packed with little lines and references to everything from the comic strips to the movies and TV specials. For longtime fans like my mom and even me, who get the references and jokes, it’s a really cute tie-in, and the movie does a really good job of stitching these things together into an actual plot consistent with the familiar characters and themes. For newcomers, especially kids, it’s a good introduction to the Peanuts world.
The plot itself is simple–straightforward–but nice. Things never really go right for Charlie Brown, and when a new girl moves in across the street, he gets his chance to make a fresh start and kind of tries to revamp himself and his image from clumsy and incapable to smart, confident, and successful. I don’t want to give anything away, even though it’s kind of predictable, but in the end, you get to see what degree of success he has but also a little bit of different perspective. While Charlie Brown sees himself as a bumbling failure, his love interest, the nameless Little Red-Haired Girl, sees other qualities in him entirely. It was a pretty sweet message to send to kids, and also a nice reminder even for adults that how we see ourselves isn’t always how the rest of the world sees us and we are not defined by our missteps and mistakes.
In the midst of this, Snoopy finds a typewriter and becomes a bit of a writer, imagining himself as the famous Flying Ace fighting the Red Baron when he stumbles upon Fifi, a dog that’s essentially a pink, poodle-like version of Snoopy. Now, before I saw the movie, I came across another review complaining that the portrayal of Fifi was sexist because she’s, well, pink. I disagree, and not just because feminism has bigger shit to worry about than a pink dog in a movie. Could they have made an imagined love interest for Snoopy without making her pink? Sure. Is it really a problem that they didn’t? Not really. Most importantly for me, though, Snoopy isn’t always the most humble of dogs. I once joked that he’s kind of a douche and my mom yelled at me for it. But it’s true–Snoopy often is a little self-centered, and I think it’s actually very fitting that he imagines a love interest that looks just like him.
Despite my criticisms of Snoopy, though, he is a very loyal friend. He may get up to some shenanigans at the expense of people around him, but he’s there as support system, a personal cheerleader, and a truly loving friend–even though he’s just a dog.
The movie did start to drag a little near the end–I suspect a pacing problem over anything else. But it was a really sweet, enjoyable, and uplifting movie that’s worth a trip out to see, especially if you’re a Snoopy fan yourself or have kids you’d like to treat to a nice, family-friendly movie with a positive message.