Here are a few important things to know about Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown:
* There are no pop culture references or cheery pop songs. The music isn't rehashed or remixed Vince Guaraldi tunes -- it's warm, reminiscent and composed by Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO fame.
* The Peanuts gang has not been "rebooted," "rebranded," or remodeled in 3D CGI. The hand-drawn characters are a seemingly clever blend of Schultz's originals and Melendez's specials. The camera moves are subtle, with a few clever twists that seem perfectly fit into the narrative (including a Snoopy vulture point-of-view).
* The Peanuts do not fight social ills, or attempt to grow an organic garden or welcome a strange newcomer to town. There are no self-congratulatory messages about the kids being "special" or needing to build their "self-esteem." (Not that any of these things are wrong in their own right, but the messages in the film, as in Schultz's strip, are subtle, gentle and belong to the viewer, not the creators)
* The film is an absolute pleasure to anyone who values Schultz's work, the Melendez specials, and/or their childhood from the 1960s through 1970s. And the really cool thing: hip preschoolers dig it too (at least mine did).
For the life of me, I cannot figure out how Warners let this get made. It's counter-intuitive to every decision entertainment executives have made in the last twenty years regarding children's entertainment. They most have lost a bet, or taken a dare, or something. But here's my message to the people who got this DVD produced: thank you. I sincerely hope there's more to come.