Thursday 17 December 2015

Reviewing Peanuts

Yesterday I was on BBC Radio 4's Front Row reviewing The Peanuts movie (or Snoopy & Charlie Brown The Peanuts Movie to give it its full UK title). It was a pre record which will be on next week. I did it as live in the studio with Samira Ahmed and great fun it was too.

Of course in our 4 minute animated chat, I managed not to squeeze in most of the bon mots I'd made in my notes, so here are thoughts that largely failed to make the radio review.

What might stand out, when you think about it, is how social mores have changed. The kids come dangerously close to bullying Charlie Brown. If you were in a real classroom and a 6 year old kid like Lucy was screaming "You blockhead" into the face of Charlie Brown - who face it looks like he's got enough problems, with that bald head and only a tiny kiss curl, if you saw him in real life it'd be a toss between whether that was ringworm or chemo - parents would be called in.

Reading the briefing notes I see the actor who plays Charlie, Noah Schnapp, "discovered his love for acting at a particularly early age". He's only 10 now. Obviously by Hollywood standards that makes him a latecomer. The kid who play Linus, Alex Garfin, "started acting professionally at age 3". At age 3 I hadn't started walking professionally.

The movie brought to mind Watchmen and Asterix, in that they raised the question of how a remake of a comic strip comes across when the source material means more to one culture than to another.

The music by Vince Guaraldi has survived intact from the 1965 Charlie Brown TV special, and all the specials and shows since, and is uniquely haunting. I've had it in my head since I saw the movie at the weekend. It's unlike any movie you'd get in this sort of kids movie today. Although the rest of the film's music is by Christophe Beck who also did Frozen and Ant Man, so the kids won't find it totally unusual.

The adult voices are produced by trombone sounds played by Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, who with a name like that really only had the one career option.

Most of my other notes, including getting a mention of producer Lee Mendelson and animator Bill Melendez who made the original TV specials 50 years ago, made the recording, though I wanted to mention that those two are name-checked in the delivery van that brings the Red Haired Girl to her house, and wanted to credit them with details like the music, the Snoopy & Woodstock and adult voices etc. Also didn't mention how Charlie Brown animation began as a series of Ford adverts for the Tennessee Ernie Ford show. Small thing, about L'il Folks.

Scottish Falsetto Socks On Tour

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

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