16 December 2015 09:25:38 IST

The Peanuts Movie: A cheery, old-fashioned cartoon film

It is refreshing to see gags on the big screen. But is it engaging enough for the adult audience?

The fictional neighbourhood in Charlie Brown and Snoopy: The Peanuts Movie is seemingly populated only by kids. No, they don’t run errands for the house or earn money for survival. There are adults to take care of that. Just that we don’t see them. Ever.

The longest running comic strip series in history hits the sweet spot between suspension of disbelief and the literal imagination of children being lost in their own world. Adults are there, but they are incidental and unimportant. We only hear of them, like Heather’s ailing grandmother or through strange, funny, unintelligible voices like that of the teachers giving instructions through speakers in school.

Animation has come a long way from the time of simplistic cartoons to films, with cutting-edge themes and mindboggling experimentations. The Peanuts Movie is a throwback to the naivety of the early cartoons. The film serves us a slice of Charlie Brown and his adorable beagle Snoopy’s adventures.

In this particular story, Charlie develops a crush on Heather, the new little red haired girl in the neighbourhood — a character in the series that becomes a sign of Charlie’s unrequited love.

The film follows Charlie trying to impress Heather, in school and in front of the Peanuts gang, as he emerges from his under confident, confused and meek old self. He is a fool. He is gullible but also compassionate, honest and big-hearted. And for company, he has his adorable beagle Snoopy. The Peanuts Movie is the classic underdog story — Fox Studios have given it a catchy tagline: “Every Underdog has his Day”.

This movie comes with an illustrious comic strip history, created by Charles M. Schultz. Charles’ son and grandson Bryan and Craig share the screenwriting credits. There has been TV shows, but never a movie. Bryan had been quoted as saying they wanted the big screen experience to marry the warmth of the hand drawn cartoons created in the 50s and the pixel-precision clarity of state of the art animation.

The film does that successfully creating a wondrous, immersive world with round-headed kid characters. It’s a cheery, old-fashioned cartoon film. Adapted from the original comics that appeared in a gag-a-day format in the newspapers, it’s refreshing to see gags on the big screen.

But for the adult audience, is it engaging enough? In a world where the only real threat is a red toy fighter plane — that has allusions to World War I — the story feels too predictable. I understand that people who’ve read the comics may have a different trip, but others may struggle to fully involve themselves with the ups and downs in the narrative. Another minor grudge I have is the absolute redundancy of 3D, with the technology not adding much to the experience.