First impressions are very important with any teaser trailer. If anything, the most impressionable part of the Peanuts movie trailer (due for a Christmas 2015 release) is in what a wonderful job Blue Sky Studios has done in transitioning Charles M. Schulz’s creations from hand drawn animation to computer graphics. The fact that I can see the fur on Snoopy’s paws when he forms them around his eyes to represent binoculars is representative of the painstaking work this animation studio took to bring each Peanut character to life.
With that praise aside, I’m bewildered as to why this film shows a lack of what makes the Peanuts so timeless.
The trailer opens to find Woodstock and friends decorating Snoopy’s doghouse with Christmas lighting while he sleeps. Vince Guaraldi’s beautiful composition is playing in the background. Suddenly, Snoopy wakes up to the shadow of a bi-plane flying over head. Our dog leaps into action with not only a change into a flying helmet and scarf but into a change of accompanying music with a wholly out-of-place pop song.
In Snoopy’s classic World War I dogfight sequence against the Red Baron (as depicted in both the animated specials and Schulz’s comic strip), how the dogfight occurs is left to the viewer to imagine. Clouds may drift in the background or bullet holes randomly appear on the side of Snoopy’s doghouse but audiences never see the Red Baron. Everything about the scene tells us that Snoopy’s fantasies are acted out as part of one of his many personas, much like Joe Cool. But somewhere in production someone thought leaving such things to children’s imagination wasn’t enough. And so we have Snoopy giving chase to the Red Baron around the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
If that isn’t enough to raise one’s hackles, the meanness displayed by Snoopy looks out of place. Lucy usually takes on that role. Her displays range from pulling away Charlie Brown’s football at the last second or just outright slugging someone when her mood is most foul. But for Snoopy to take Woodstock and use him as the connector to Christmas lighting, causing the poor bird to get electrified, I can’t recall if this has ever been done.
Don’t get me wrong I still have hopes that what is seen in the trailer will not be in the film nor represent what to expect in the film. If this is a glimpse of what is to come I will cherish the animated specials even more. After the poorly animated Postman Pat the movie and with what could be a sub-par adaptation of Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear, I have learned to take these things one step at a time.