The Paul Feig-produced The Peanuts Movie, the first theatrically released feature in decades based on Charles M. Schulz’s long-running comic strip, is due to hit theaters on November 6. To mark the occasion, those fast-talking Fine Brothers have done another one of their customary race-against-the-clock videos, this time one called “65 Years In 5 Minutes: The History Of Peanuts (Snoopy & Charlie Brown).” For those without the time or patience to wade through a hefty biography of the cartoonist behind such characters as Pigpen and Schroeder, this YouTube video provides a handy crash course on the man and his work, minus all the depressing stuff about how the strip frequently served as a conduit for its creator’s own depression and self-doubt. Make no mistake, this is the upbeat “highlights reel” version of the Peanuts story.
Occasionally pausing to exclaim, “New decade!”, the Fines hit all the expected milestones in their thumbnail history of Schulz and his creation, from his birth in Minneapolis in 1922 to the debut of his immortal comic strip in 1950, following the demise of a previous feature called Li’l Folks. Peanuts did not arrive fully formed 65 years ago, the brothers dutifully point out. Instead, the strip’s famous characters (Lucy, Peppermint Patty, Woodstock) appeared gradually over time, as did the various tropes and traditions (the psychiatrist booth, Charlie Brown’s futile quest to kick that goddamned football) that eventually took over the strip. Latecomers to Peanuts may be surprised to learn that neither Joe Cool nor Marcie, for instance, made their respective debuts until the 1970s. Certainly, a major turning point in the Peanuts franchise was the 1965 debut of the animated special A Charlie Brown Christmas, which the Fines note is itself celebrating its 50th anniversary. Ultimately, the video accomplishes what its creators intended, which is to ramp up interest in the upcoming theatrical film, the first major development in the Peanuts saga since Charles Schulz’s death in 2000.