Friday, May 06, 2022

Snoopy Presents: To Mom (and Dad) with Love, on Apple TV+

Parents like to say every day is children’s day—unless you are Charlie Brown, who never gets to have his day. On the other hand, every day is usually great for Peppermint Patty, except Mother’s Day, because she doesn’t have one. However, she has Marcie to help her cope in Snoopy Presents: To Mom (and Dad) with Love, directed by Clay Kaytis, which premieres today on Apple TV+.

This new Mother’s Day special is a bit of a departure from the previous
Peanuts holiday commemorations, because it very much focuses on Peppermint Patty, with both Snoopy and Charlie Brown only playing supporting roles. Of course, Snoopy still gets an adventure in, when he sets off with Woodstock to find his avian friend’s sainted mother.

Although we never learn the circumstances, it is clear Peppermint Patty has grown up without her mother, just her cool, sporting dad, which probably explains why she always kicks poor Charlie Brown’s butt in sports. She always hated Mother’s Day, but this year it is really getting her down. Fortunately, Marcie will step up, the way Linus sometimes does for Charlie Brown.

To Mom
is consistently sweet and endearing. It helps define the idea of family inclusively, but without charging into the raging culture wars. Presumably, Charles Shulz would have been comfortable with it. After all, he always expressed humanistic compassion for kids who felt a little different or a little lonely. In this case, screenwriter Alex Galatis manages to build an entire story out of Peppermint Patty’s off-hand mention in one comic strip (from 1973) that she has no mother, without creating any new backstory of his own. That’s some agile writing and good management of a beloved licensed property.

As with previous Apple
Peanuts programming, Jeff Morrow does a nice job of evoking the vibe of Vince Guaraldi’s iconic music, but we still miss “Linus and Lucy.” This time around, his themes might be a bit more distinctive and swinging. In terms of the animation, the best sequences that really evoke warm waves of nostalgia are those of Snoopy and Woodstock’s journey and the flashbacks to Woodstock in the nest.

For Auld Lang Syne
and It’s the SmallThings, Charlie Brown were probably somewhat more interesting in terms of either story or songs, but it is always reassuring to reconnect with the Peanuts gang. Plus, who wouldn’t appreciate the good, healthy themes of family and friendship? Recommended for Peanuts fans and family audiences, Snoopy Presents: To Mom (and Dad) with Love starts streaming today (5/6), on Apple TV+.