Peanuts movie beautiful but old-fashioned

THE STORY: Based on Charles M. Schulz's classic comics strip Peanuts, this latest film adaptation has Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) smitten with the new "little red-haired girl" in his class. He is too shy to talk to her, but has his trusty friends and loyal beagle Snoopy to help him out.

Everything about this new film adaptation of Charles M. Schulz's classic comics strip Peanuts - the first feature in 35 years - is sweet and familiar.

Woeful Charlie Brown is still adorably awkward, his pet beagle Snoopy is his usual overly imaginative self, and their gang of friends are as mischievous and colourful as ever.

But the film-makers' intent on staying true to the source material, using a script written by Schulz's son Craig and grandson Bryan, means the film also comes off as terribly old-fashioned.

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Drenched in nostalgia, it will appeal only to long-time fans of the comics, who will lap up recognisable scenes of Shroeder bent over his piano and Lucy doling out advice at her psychiatry booth - which, by the way, still costs only a nickel a consultation.

There is a lovely scene that pays tribute to the 1965 television special A Charlie Brown Christmas, with the children carolling while the show's original choir recording of the song Christmas Time Is Here plays in the background.

Even the voices of Snoopy and his bird friend Woodstock are done using archival recordings of the late Bill Melendez, who had voiced the characters in all of the old Peanuts TV specials.

But more archaic references, such as Snoopy's repeated mentions of The Red Baron - the nickname of World War I aviator Manfred von Richthofen, who is his imaginary antagonist - will fly right over children's heads.

At the screening of this film that this reviewer attended, children and teenagers alike were not heard laughing at any of the jokes.

Cutesy and pleasant as it is, the film is perhaps too innocuous for audiences who have become more accustomed to the snarky wit and zippy animation style of films such as Kung Fu Panda 3, whose trailer was shown right before this movie.

The visuals are beautifully rendered in 3D for the modern-day viewer, but they may not be enough to convert a new generation of fans.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2015, with the headline 'Peanuts movie beautiful but old-fashioned'. Print Edition | Subscribe