Here at 24 Panels, we like to give each new comic book movie trailer the roundtable treatment. This time, we take a look at the first trailer for Peanuts, directed by Steve Martino (Horton Hears a Who!, Ice Age: Continental Drift).
DAVE: Well, if nothing else, this trailer did remind me that a Peanuts film is in production, something I had totally forgotten about up until today.
While there isn’t anything in this teaser to really give us any indication as to what the story of this film will be, I have to admit that I am rather surprised by just how much this feels like the Peanuts we all know and (presumably) love, the opening 2001: A Space Odyssey gag aside (a gag which needs to die, by the way). Charles M. Schulz’s art style has translated surprisingly well to CG animation, but more importantly, this teaser gives the impression that the warm-and-friendly heart which defines Peanuts has made the translation to the big screen as well.
Still, this is just a teaser, and there are plenty of questions I have about the film and how the property is being adapted without Schulz being involved (due to him being, well, dead). It is one thing to capture the essence of Schulz’s work in a minute long teaser: Peanuts did start as a daily comic strip after all. However, a feature length film is a different beast altogether, and if the film is going to work, the filmmakers cannot simply rely on the animation style and iconic score to do the heavy lifting for them. Whatever the story being told in this film is, it will have to capture the essence of Schulz’s work over a ninety minute running time, and I cannot help but wonder if anyone in modern Hollywood really has it within them to do that.
JAMES: I have never been a big fan of Peanuts, particularly the comic strip. Only recently I have given myself over to A Charlie Brown Christmas, thanks in part to Vince Guaraldi’s magnificent soundtrack. So that’s where I stand; I don’t really have a dog in this race. Like you Dave, I’m pleasantly surprised to see how well — visually at least — this material translates to modern animation practices, although it loses Schulz’s ramshackle charm. How it fares in 3D remains to be seen, though (also why?).
I’m also in agreement: Hollywood needs to let go the 2001 references. Sure, the film nerd in my smiles every time there is one, but really it’s (sadly) no longer a relevant reference point. Outside of cinephiles and first-year film students, is Kubrick’s landmark sci-fi film being watched by the majority of the parents of Peanuts‘ audience? Is this a gag that anyone gets? Will this kind of referential humour be indicative of the final product thereby making it indistinguishable with the majority of post-Shrek non-Pixar animated family films? But the film is still almost two years away. Perhaps at that time, we’ll have answers to these questions.
Peanuts opens in cinemas November 2015.