Charlie Brown's return to the big screen, 25 years after the last Peanuts feature, is sure to charm and delight newcomers and fans of Charles M. Schulz's comic strip.
Schulz' son and grandson were on the writing and production team, so it's no surprise The Peanuts Movie respects Schulz' 50-year legacy.
It's a touch more upbeat than Schulz may have been comfortable with, but Bryan and Craig Schulz have otherwise retained the spirit, humour and language of the Peanuts world, and Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age) have done an incredible job recreating the 2D characters in a 3D CGI world.
The animation is beautiful. Director Steve Martino has created vibrant characters that pop off the screen with their expressive, single line features. They retain Schulz's hand-drawn quirks and 2D quality, especially in profile, but feel fresh and contemporary.
The tone is also faithful to the original comic series. Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) is still one of life's punching bags, but when a new red-headed beauty arrives at school, he sees the opportunity to re-invent himself for someone who isn't aware he's one of life's losers.
A sub-plot involving Charlie Brown's adorable beagle, Snoopy (Bill Melendez), who fantasises about being a fighter pilot battling the Red Baron, accompanies the main storyline. And that's what you get with The Peanuts Movie: something for everyone. My 6-year-old thought Snoopy's story was the best thing about this movie, and the 9-year-old loved that everything goes wrong for Charlie Brown.
Die-hard fans will be pleased to see all their favourite characters, from piano-playing Linus and Peppermint Patty to Woodstock and dirty old Pig Pen, and there's plenty of more sophisticated humour for adults as well, as Charlie Brown tackles a book report on Tolstoy's War and Peace, and Lucy hands out shonky psychiatric advice.
The pacing is off at times and the gentle flow can occasionally lead the mind to wander, but it's a delight to have Peanuts back on the big screen.
Voices: Noah Schnapp, Bill Melendez
Director: Steve Martino
Running Time: 93 mins
Verdict: A touch slow at times, but a faithful and sweet addition to the Peanuts collection