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Peanuts: Flying Higher, Reaching Out, Seeing Anew

Suzanne and I went to see The Peanuts Movie. (Yes, we like kids’ movies. They often contain metaphysics. I have long said that one of my very favorite metaphysical movies is the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.) I love Peanuts, so this movie appealed to me.

The Peanuts Movie centers around Charlie Brown’s pursuit of The Little Red-Haired Girl, with a delightful subplot regarding Snoopy’s latest novel, in which he, as The World War One Flying Ace, is chasing a female canine flying ace named Fifi. Fifi gets shot down by the Red Baron and Snoopy, of course, has to rescue her. There are many funny Peanuts complications to that and he just misses several times before he manages to bring Fifi back to safety on his doghouse Sopwith Camel, to the cheers of his crew (Woodstock and his bird friends).

Meanwhile, we have Charlie Brown’s situation. The movie opens in the winter with all the kids playing hockey, except Charlie Brown, who, on a snow day, is still trying to get that kite in the air. If you know Peanuts, you know how that goes. Lucy is showing off her figure skating.

All of this is interrupted by a moving van. The name of the moving company is a bit of an inside joke. (See if you pick up on it.) It turns out that a new family is moving in across the street from Charlie Brown. Their daughter, of course, is The Little Red-Haired Girl.

Charlie Brown tries many things to impress her. He tries to learn to dance and has some impressive moves before disaster strikes. He draws her as a book report partner, finds out that she’s away for the weekend, seeks out “the best novel”, and winds up with War and Peace. Somehow, he manages to read it in a weekend and writes a report. The first draft is typically plain: “This report is about War and Peace. First there was war. Then there was peace.” When that report gets destroyed and Charlie Brown has to start all over again, he writes what Linus calls “the finest piece of literary analysis I have ever read.” Of course, it gets hilariously destroyed, leaving Charlie Brown in desperation.

A few more embarrassing complications ensue in his pursuit of The Little Red-Haired Girl. Finally, we arrive at the last day of school. Everyone is to select a pen pal for the summer. They draw names and when Charlie Brown’s name is drawn, nobody wants to be his pen palt. Finally, one student speaks up: “I’ll do it.” It’s The Little Red-Haired Girl. So Charlie Brown works up the courage to go over and speak to her (and return her chewed-up pencil), only to find that she’s heading to summer camp. (Doesn’t it figure?)

He finds her at the bus and asks her why she chose him, the clumsy, incompetent, inept blockhead. She says she doesn’t see him that way, citing the dance, the book report, and a few other things. He hands her her pencil, which she has been looking all over for, and she gets on the bus, promising to write him.

What do we learn? Well, persistence pays. Charlie Brown is so focused and persistent in his pursuit of The Little Red-Haired Girl that he does things he wouldn’t ordinarily have tried to do. As a result, who he really is comes shining through. Also, Snoopy’s dedication in his pursuit of Fifi ultimately wins the day.

And we learn to look at ourselves through new eyes and see the best. All the kids view Charlie Brown as a loser and a blockhead, but The Little Red Haired Girl sees him differently, and her view encourages Charlie Brown to see himself differently.

And of course, through both Fifi and The Little Red-Haired Girl, we see the power of love. Love is a great driver to make us reach higher and farther.

Oh – and stick around for the closing credits, not just to see how very many people it took, but for Meghan Trainor’s song that runs under the credits, “Good to Be Alive”. The lyrics are quite upbeat and positive, very much in tune with our philosophy. (You can read them at http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/meghantrainor/goodtobealive.html)

All in all, this is a delightful day at the movies with a sweet, humorous, metaphysical tinge. I highly recommend that you get some good popcorn and reacquaint yourself with the Peanuts gang.

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