I was SO impressed with the Peanuts movie that came out last year, despite inital skepticism that it would stray from Charles Schultz’s heart and vision. Thankfully I was worried for nothing, and even had the opportunity to address an audience after a showing of the film and map out the narrative parallels.
Enjoy the video exploration below, or the written review with visuals based on the presentation!
One of the main themes we come away from with The Peanuts movie (and many of the comics and cartoons) is…
In this film, Snoopy’s pursuit of Fifi parallels with Charlie’s desire to pursue the red-haired girl. In many ways Snoopy is…
Chuck feels out of place in school = Snoopy – thrown out of school.
Charlie pines for the little red-headed girl, Snoopy dreams up Fifi
Charlie’s seems like a little crush, Snoopy declares it the “greatest love story ever told!”
Whereas the conflict for Charlie is doing a book report, or learning to dance… for Snoopy it’s war: fighting evil to save the damsel. It even comes full circle when the book report is chewed up by the red baron plane.
Snoopy is the way we see our own life stories.
Snoopy is a projection of how Charlie would like to feel…
…instead of the anxiety riddled boy he actually IS.
Charlie’s a pretty firm believer in Murphy’s Law.
Charlie’s main foe is himself – the internal conflict – yet he also faces a broken world around him filled with kite-eating trees, punch on the floor, and more. The world may not actually be conspiring against him, but it doesn’t seem particularly suited to help him either.
There are also people against him… like Lucy.
Lucy van Pelt: Girls want someone with proven success. Have you won any awards? Like a Congressional Medal of Honor? Or a Nobel Peace Prize?
Charlie Brown: Uh…
Lucy van Pelt: What are your real estate holdings? Do you have a diversified portfolio?
Her attitude and advice are familiar voices from the world, and they aren’t helpful.
We see a trio of “enemies” depicted: our own natures, the world around us, and that dastardly “red baron”.
Christians perceive three enemies in life: the world, the flesh, and the devil. How can we overcome an internal nature, our environment, and sinister forces in this life?
Charlie Brown, the every-man, experiences a story that plays out our own needs for reconciling these things.
Lucy recommends “self-help” to “impress people”. She promises it will make him a winner, but it won’t, and Charlie Brown takes a very different path.
Instead of being a winner, Charlie Brown forfeits the contest to help his sister. He is kind to her. He walks humbly. And he takes action for justice…
He could have taken credit for the perfect paper, but when he realizes the error, he barely even hesitates.
By contrast, Sally loses some integrity in the movie, doesn’t she?
Charlie Brown: [waking up] Hey! What are you doing?
Sally Brown: I’m trying to cash in on your celebrity.
Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.
– Proverbs 19:1
The least integrity probably belongs to Lucy, who is a constant scoffer and mocker. Does this sound like someone you know? Is it YOU?
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing…”
– Proverbs 1:22
By the way, scoffers someday will be condemned. Always finding the worst, cynical – a sharp wit that cuts. Be careful, because it cuts both ways: the seat of scoffers is going to be a HOT SEAT someday.
Charlie Brown isn’t a know-it-all, mockish scoffer – in fact he doesn’t even know why the red-headed girl likes him.
Charlie Brown: Before you leave, there’s something I really need to know. Why, out of all the kids in our class, would you want to be partners with me?
Little Red-Haired Girl:That’s easy. It’s because I admire the type of person you are.
Charlie Brown: An insecure, wishy-washy failure?
Little Red-Haired Girl: That’s not who you are at all. You showed compassion for your sister at the talent show. Honesty at the assembly. And at the dance, you were brave yet funny. And what you did for me, doing the book report while I was away, was so sweet of you.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience… – Colossians 3:12
Charlie Brown showed compassion, integrity, kindness, humility, and he’s most certainly meek. In fact, a key component he seems to miss most of the time is…
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
– Colossians 3:15
Peace is one thing he needs, and patience is the thing Charlie Brown has to learn in the movie…
The apostle Peter has good, godly wisdom for the Peanuts kids…
“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5:5-11
Charlie Brown’s friend, always by his side, is Snoopy. It’s a bit of a fantasy, but what ISN’T a fantasy is that we have a friend with the same letters… just the other way around:)
GOD sent his Son Jesus Christ to shoot down the red barons in our lives, and to equip us to overcome. He loves us and draws out the Charlie Browniest parts of us, helping us to be more like him. He loves us whether we can fly a kite or do a magic show – doesn’t matter.
Early in the film, Charlie is excited for the “new kid in the neighborhood”… why is that?
Charlie Brown: I just hope this new kid has never heard of me. He would know nothing of my past imperfections. It’s not often you get the opportunity to start over with a clean slate. This time things will be different.
The great thing about our REAL story is that we have a God who loves us despite our imperfections… a God who gives us a clean slate. And in Him, we can overcome.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.– Ephesians 2:8-10
Charlie Brown doesn’t just get to be loved, he gets to love others in return. He not only flies a kite, but teaches and encourages the little boy to follow in his stead…
The Snoopy dance, head thrown back, is a great image of exultation. The Peanuts movie may have a stinger with Charlie Brown and the football – as usual – but the great news is the main message of the movie mirrors some of the real reasons we can endure.