“Charlie Brown must be the one who suffers, because he’s a caricature of the average person. Most of us are much more acquainted with losing than winning. Winning is great, but it isn’t funny.” Charles Schulz
A word of caution for those who wish to see the movie unspoiled… this post contains spoilers!
This weekend I decided to play the awesome aunt role and take my 7 year old nephew to go see The Peanuts Movie. This was not a chore as the boyfriend and I wanted to see it anyway! My nephew impressed me with his familiarity with some of the character names. Granted that could have been due to the movie trailers that sparked his interest. Nonetheless, he enjoyed the movie despite his unawareness of all the elements that would insight nostalgia for the avid fans. His favorite parts were when Snoopy was pretending to use his doghouse as a plane, and he laughed every time Charlie Brown did something silly. In this regard, The Peanuts Movie is like an introduction to the newbie and a perfect film for children. It has a little bit of everything integrated from the comics.
There was Lucy at the end of the film convincing Charlie that she would not pull the football away from him and did so anyway. My nephew loved that!
The running gag revolving around Lucy’s disapproval of dog kisses!
Lucy also sets up shop in her 5 cent advice stand. Charlie Brown consults with her in the movie about how he can impress girls. Lucy tells him that if he wants to impress girls, he has to show them he’s a winner.
There are also little mentions of things like Linus’ obsession with the Great Pumpkin and Schroeder’s love of Beethoven.
There is a side story that runs alongside Charlie Brown’s attempts at winning the attention of the Little Red-Haired girl. His dependable dog Snoopy and his best friend Woodstock embark on their own adventure. Snoopy becomes his alter ego the World War I Flying Ace in order to track down his nemesis the Red Baron to save his love Fifi.
In addition, like in the comics, there are several attempts made by Snoopy to get inside of the school so that he may attend class. In the movie he encounters the Red Barron for the first time when Charlie Brown mistakenly lets Linus’ show-and-tell plane fly out the school window sending Snoopy on his imaginary adventure.
Then we have Good ol’ Charlie Brown living his life in a great big ball of social anxiety…
And feeling inadequate…
Wanting to impress the girl…
And having a good heart!
“The Peanuts Movie” is good for kids because it is a lesson on life. We are all Charlie Browns!
When I watch movies I look for the formulas
Things working out… things go bad… things work out in the end
Boy meets girl… boy loses girl… boy gets girl back… and so forth.
It is usually an outside force that brings thing apart before they come back together
Boy cheats on girl… someone loses a job… relocation… someone tries to kidnap Liam Neeson’s family…
Whatever it is, the problem is usually overcome by the movies conclusion.
With The Peanuts Movie the force was Charlie Brown himself. The story is moved along by the anxieties that children, and even adults, experience. From beginning to end, Charlie Brown faces all sides of the popularity spectrum, ranging from class reject… to school superstar… back to reject… to socially accepted.
That’s life. It is a roller-coaster!
The beginning of the movie shows a Charlie Brown that has a can-do attitude but is just missing the faith in himself part. He tries hard at things such as flying a kite, playing baseball, and talking to the Little Red-Haired girl but he gives up in the moment things go bad. Not to say he won’t try again because he will, but his attitude is limited by that single moment and is quickly defeated. Let’s take a look at this in respects to Charlie and the Little Red-Haired girl.
Charlie Brown and trying to Impress the Girl
- In the beginning of the movie, Charlie believes he could impress the Little Red-Haired girl by winning the talent show. He prepares a magic act with his assistant Snoopy. When he sees his sisters act faltering he gives up his to help her out. He dresses up like a cow and by the end of the act he is hanging upside down by his hands and feet exposed from his costume. It made the school newspaper and he was ashamed and felt embarrassed because everyone was laughing at him. This made him feel not good enough to talk to the Little Red-Haired girl. This happens during the phase of the movies where he feels like the class loser. When you walk around with the attitude that you are a loser, you are putting negative energy out into the universe and things rarely work out in your favor.
- Then a mistake happens in the middle of the movie. Charlie and Peppermint Patty mistakenly put their names on the wrong state tests. When the results come it Charlie is the only student to get a perfect score. All of a sudden he is at the top of the class. Everyone wants to be his friend or ask his advice on homework. His sister takes advantage of his new found fame by showing him off to the neighborhood kids. They watch him read. They wear his style shirt. They buy hats and pins with his face on them. He is a superstar! He even taught a kid to fly a kite and scored a hockey goal during a trip. The puck hit off several objects before sliding into the net. Everything that used to spin bad was now spinning in his favor.
- This puffed up his ego giving him a new found confidence that he didn’t previously have. He was teamed up with the Little Red-Haired girl for a book report but she was out of town. Charlie takes the initiative to do the book report all by himself to impress her. He goes to the library and takes out the book War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy on Marcy’s suggestion. He reads the entire book in a weekend and finished the 1000 word essay in what Linus called the greatest piece of literary critique he has ever read. The Little Red-Haired girl is impressed and flattered that Charlie did that for her.
- However, the morning that the book reports were due, the school was having an assembly to honor Charlie for getting a perfect score. When he is handed his exam while standing on the stage, he realizes that it was not his test. He does the honorable thing and fesses up to the mistake then goes back to feeling like a reject. Outside during a recess, the book report flies up into the wind and his shredded by Linus’ run away plane from the beginning of the movie. The Little Red-Haired girl suggests that they can do it over, but the dejected Charlie just walks away with his head down.
- Finally the story comes full circle for Charlie on the last day of school when the Little Red-Haired girl volunteers to be his summer pen pal. It makes him act out of sorts like he doesn’t know what to do with himself. He rushes to her house because he finally got up the nerve to talk to her, but her mom says she is not home. The Little Red-Haired girl is heading for summer camp. Charlie then rushes back to the school to try and catch the bus before she leaves so he can ask her why she picked him.
- Towards the end of the chase an ice cream truck pulls up and kids block his way. It seemed hopeless but in a last ditch effort, Charlie asked the universe for help. You ask and you shall receive. All of a sudden he was taken up by a kite and flown over the kids and the truck. The kite was pulling him along in the direction of the boarding school bus. Everyone who saw him thought he was finally flying a kite. He gets there just in time and finally asks her why she agreed to be his pen pal. She told him that she witnessed him being supportive of his sister at the talent show, thoughtful when he finished the book report for her, and honest when he confessed that it wasn’t his test that scored the 100. She saw, what he felt were bad things, as good qualities that she wants in a friend.
We all go through this! I’ve felt not good enough. That I didn’t deserve good things. That I was inadequate. I was clumsy. I had low self-esteem. I’d start every idea off with a can-do attitude. I’d give up just as easily. This is kind of like how I used to be with past diets and exercise. I start them, don’t see immediate big results, then give them up only to go back and try something again at a later time.
My philosophy has become “fake it till you make it”
If we walk around life feeling good about ourselves, like Charlie when he thought he scored a perfect 100 on the state exam, we can draw good into our lives. You can feel good about yourself. You can be happy with yourself. Pushing out negative thoughts is hard-work but higher self-esteem is worth it. So wear that dress, put on those shorts, display your arms in all their glory and love yourself!
We need to be the heroes of our lives and keep fighting through whatever troubles us!
I’m looking at you!