Good grief: Charlie Brown gets 3-D treatment

By Steven Zeitchik
Los Angeles Times via McClatchy-Tribune

LOS ANGELES — Everything else is going 3-D and computer generated. Why not Lucy, Snoopy and the rest of the “Peanuts” gang?

At least, that’s what those behind a November 2015 release starring Charlie Brown and his beloved canine are hoping.

Directed by “Ice Age: Continental Drift” helmer Steve Martino, “Peanuts,” which uses various 21st century technologies, looks to tap into the interest we typically have for “Peanuts” around the holidays, this time on the big screen.

Blue Sky and Fox’s “Peanuts” reboot unveiled a teaser Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” after debuting images in USA Today.

There wasn’t much in the teaser, a quick “2001” nod followed by Snoopy getting overly affectionate with his less-than-hirsute owner.

The USA Today piece also revealed that Charlie’s lightly seen love interest, “the little red-haired girl,” will have a prominent role in the film.

But more important than the what is the how — specifically, how a computer generated Charlie Brown looks. The answer? Slick and a little strange.

Apparently aware of how some purists might react, Charles Schulz’s son Craig, who’s involved in the film, tells USA Today that he’s “way more protective than my father would have been. Our No. 1 goal was always to be authentic to his work and legacy.”

Those who remember Schulz’s sly, sweet hand-drawn cartoons from the page and the screen may nonetheless be a little taken aback to see their beloved characters so digital and crystalline, rather than with the minimalist, rough-around-the-edges look favored for decades.

The handmade quality, and the resistance to new trends in animation and technology, is, after all, exactly what has made “Peanuts” so timeless.
Then again, this may also divide along generational lines.

School-age viewers are already so conditioned to seeing animation in computer generated imagery, and may primarily have been exposed to Peanuts characters through an occasional holiday special as well as those Met Life ads on their parents’ shows, and who sheds tears over changes to those?

The film is scheduled to hit theaters Nov. 6, 2015.