I used to love – and in fact still do – Snoopy and Charlie Brown.
I grew up with the newspaper strips, I got the books for Christmas and birthdays, I watched the cartoons on TV.
I wanted to be Joe Cool, I wanted to pay my nickel and talk to Lucy in her booth, I wanted to watch Schroeder play the piano, I wanted to hang with Peppermint Patty.
So it was with no small delight that the news of the first Peanuts film in 35 years was greeted by this jaded former youth.
I’ve missed Charlie Brown and his eternal optimism. I’ve missed Woodstock. I’ve missed Snoopy and his myriad personalities.
And I’d kind of forgotten just how big an impact Mr Schulz had with his little world of children trying to deal with grown-up problems.
Without him, you wouldn’t have Calvin and Hobbes. And I don’t want to live in a world without those two.
So, I was a bit giddy about this.
It’s just a shame the film didn’t live up to expectations.
In a way, that’s almost poetic – if anyone embodies life not being what we want and hope, it’s Charlie Brown.
But it’s taken me a while to actually wrap my head around what the problem is.
The fact they’ve used Bill Melendez’s original Snoopy and Woodstock voice recordings is a nice touch, and you have all the characters you love doing all the things you loved them doing.
And Charlie Brown faces every dilemma and foe we remember, so that’s all good.
It’s the drawings.
Modern and up-to-date animation adds a gloss and sheen and – dare I say it – a positivity that is at odds with the more down-beat source material.
It also causes some unnecessary conflict – the animation is very child-friendly, but the story itself isn’t.
But this isn’t laugh-out-loud funny. The comic strips never where. It’s understated, raising wry smiles. Kids aren’t big on wry smiles as a rule.
You could probably live with the animation if there wasn’t a quick flashback bit in the original black and white. In that moment, you remember what you loved and what isn’t sitting so well now.
You could also, probably, live with it if they hadn’t a) given Snoopy more cartoonish expressions and 2) given him actual fur. I’m not used to seeing Snoopy’s fur…
And if ever you didn’t want a film in 3D…
Overall, this isn’t a bad film. It has everything you want, it has everyone you want.
It just isn’t the film you want.
You want more downbeat failings, you want Charlie Brown to trudge more, you want more Joe Cool.
Instead, you get every character Schulz ever created thrown at the screen (do they all have agents?) and then polished.
And it’s very hard to have empathy for a polished Charlie Brown.