When I first heard that Charlie Brown was being recreated for the big screen, I shuddered a little bit. Having grown up with a rather large collection of Charles Schulz’s comics (which my parents would have to pry from my sleeping hands every night), I was afraid my childhood was about to be butchered by a Hollywood interpretation.
But when the first trailer came out, I was shocked. These graphics, though different, were true to Schulz’s art. And the voices weren’t of famous actors—in fact they sounded like kids, just like the original holiday specials. It didn’t seem like this was possible to see happen in today’s society. How much could this movie truly pay tribute to the original Peanuts strips?
I headed to the theater with my kids in hand to find out.
The lights went out and some hand drawn snowflakes appeared on the screen as the scene began to merge these old comic snowflakes with the new graphics and art direction. Vince Guaraldi Trio’s, Skating, began to play as a familiar scene emerged.
And this is odd to say, but for a brief moment, I began to cry.
For the next 93 minutes I sat in a room full of kids and their parents as my childhood danced on the screen. It stayed so true to Schulz’s original vision and direction that there were moments where I knew how lines were going to end before they were even over—they were near straight quotes from the comics. Almost all of the classic moments were incorporated—from Snoopy’s typewriter to Lucy’s psychiatric help stand; Linus’ deep insight about his homework to Charlie Brown lying awake at night—it was all there!
I was intrigued. On one hand this movie had paid perfect tribute to decades worth of Peanuts history, but on the other hand, it adapted it just enough to engage a new audience. But while it engaged a new audience, it didn’t cater to them. There were many things Charlie Brown said in the movie that were perhaps too deep for kids to take in, but those moments were true to the comics. They could have used different lingo to get it across, but they didn’t. They could have thrown a computer, tablet or phone into the mix so kid would recognize something, but they didn’t. The movie simply stayed authentic to what “Sparky would have done.”
“Everyone felt this was so sacred,” said lead materials tech director Nikki Tomaino, “We put the pressure on ourselves. We had to get it right, or we would never be forgiven.” (Mashable)
There’s a message in here somewhere about how we Christians teach and interpret the Bible.
Some of us don’t do enough studying to figure out how to accurately present a passage and so we give a misguided or false interpretation to the world. The Peanuts movie could have done that, but instead they brought some of Schulz’s family into the filmmaking process to ensure that it stayed true to Schulz’s work.
Others of us try so hard to be culturally relevant that we destroy everything the Bible means. If the Peanuts movie ended up being anything like all of Hollywood’s other translations of movies, it would have polarized everyone (The Muppets anyone?).
Still others of us, try to change some of the things in the Bible in attempts to be accepted by others. There were things in The Peanuts Movie that were true to the comics that I’m not sure a younger generation would have gotten or understood, but the filmmaking crew stayed true to Schulz’s work anyways.
I didn’t plan on coming out of this movie thinking about Biblical interpretation, but I guess I’m weird like that. If you haven’t seen The Peanuts Movie movie yourself and you read all the comics as a kid, I doubt you’ll be upset with it. Let me know what you thought in the comments below.
An interesting article on the Peanuts just came out this week on Relevant Magazine that’s worth reading. Check it out here.