For some strange reason, some folks are getting pretty wound up over the upcoming 2015 Blue Sky picture Peanuts. In particular, animation news site cartoonbrew.com has taken a particularly hostile stance towards this movie. Although author of the article Amid Amidi certainly is entitled to his experienced and professional opinion, my years of experience with Charlie Brown and friends are giving me a particular feeling that there is no reason to fear any “blandification” of the Peanuts gang in this film.
I am a traditionalist. I hate the idea of Disneyland adding a Frozen overlay to the Matterhorn, I hate(d) the idea of Iago and Zazu taking over Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, and I hate the idea of, for lack of a better description, “smurfing” up a timeless icon of American culture. That being said, there is a time when revisions and updates, tastefully done, are necessary, and even laudable. For example, Planet of the Apes was a wonderfully provoking-yet-frightening movie in its time. It hit the right notes of the time and scored big in becoming a timeless classic, but the effect of its ending has lost its impact in a time when nuclear war is no longer as foreboding and pressing on the public mind as it once was. That’s why today the prequels are preforming well due to not only a modern relevancy to auds facing insurrection and rebellion in established society, but an update in technology and the way we see the fury of these apes.
Just so, Charlie Brown needs an update. Jokes from Schulz’s fifty-year career just aren’t cutting it with modern viewers most often, and anything that’s written for the occasional new “specials” that follow the holiday classics can never live up to the genius he invested in his work. I do not expect anything as brilliant as the original strips, but instead I happily anticipate the coming of a new generation of Peanuts, different from the comic strips in the way Disneyland is different from Walt Disney World: not necessarily better, rather simply updated and remolded. When I see the artwork for the new Peanuts, I am encouraged by, what looks to me, to be a true effort to incorporate the atmosphere of a comic strip into a moving picture on screen. This screenshot says it all.