Book Review: “The Art and Making of The Peanuts Movie” by Jerry Schmitz

Jerry Schmitz presents an insightful and enthralling view of Snoopy’s return to the big screen in this stunning account of the creative process behind new The Peanuts Movie. I was incredibly excited when I received the opportunity to review The Art and Making of The Peanuts Movie.  I am a huge fan of Peanuts and adore the quirkiness of Charles Schultz’s cartoon strips, particularly the distinctive personalities of the characters and their ability to be universally relatable (I have always identified with Lucy Van Pelt).

Schmitz’s behind-the-scenes account of the new The Peanuts Movie is visually stunning. The detailing of the artwork is incredible, even the front cover is testament to the creativity of both Charles Schultz and the film’s art department. Schmitz’s account of the making of the film establishes from the very beginning that the entire creative process of the film was fuelled by love of the original cartoon strips. Schultz is consistently referred to throughout by his nickname, “Sparky”, allowing the reader to get a very real sense of the affection that the Schmitz and the films crew have for the whole Peanuts gang. Schmitz is an excellent writer, keeping the reader constantly engaged with revelations about the difficulties faced, particularly in animating Woodstock, while never giving enough information away to render watching the film pointless.

The book makes the creative process behind the film come to life by including a detailed frame by frame comparison of the development of the computer generated characters from the original cartoons, allowing the reader to clearly see the process of preparing the familiar characters and settings for the big screen.  It also hints at the interesting development of The Little Red-Haired Girl, an unseen character in the original strips. I won’t spoil the movie but I will say that devotees of the original series are unlikely to be angered by the innovative methods that the film-makers have taken to ensure that the mystique of the character is not destroyed.  I also loved the fact that Schmitz pays homage to Schultz’s throughout the book in the titling of his chapters. I particularly loved “You’re a complicated Blockhead, Charlie Brown”.

I am extremely excited about The Peanuts Movie and Schmitz has succeed in lovingly portraying the intricate process of bringing one of the most beloved franchises in history to the big screen, you really are something special Snoopy!

A copy of the book was provided by the publisher for review. 

The Peanuts Movie will be released November 6, 2015.