It is no secret that I am a huge Peanuts fan. So when I was attending the Laughlin International Film Festival this past weekend and met the writer, director and star of Good Grief, Brandon Ford Green, who sold me on the concept that his film was deeply inspired by Charles Schulz’s lovable blockhead I dropped everything to see it.
What I didn’t expect was the level of dedication Green had in staying true to the Peanuts legacy. I turned into a blubbering idiot as the gang (who’s names were changed for copyright reasons) returned home to bury their childhood friend Cory (Charlie Brown). Fr. Lewis (Linus, Don Jeanes), Benny (Franklin, Green), Pepper (Peppermint Patty, Rachel True), Penn (Pigpen, Jeffery Johnson), Lacy (Lucy, Ashli Dowling) and the rest of the crew relive childhood memories before life became complicated.
Free spirited Pepper is now in a relationship with workaholic girlfriend, Darcy (Marcy, Samantha Quan) as Ricky (Schroeder, Eric Michael Cole) is combating his own personal demons, which include a bad breakup with Lacy and that his hand never healed right, ending his music career.
Green did not miss a single detail in making this movie; every Easter egg was perfectly placed ensuring a chuckle or an awe moment. Green made sure that each character was color-coded to match the characters who inspired them and the casting was spectacular. Even Cinematographer, Ryan A. Verbel, shot everything with a yellow tint to not only give it a warmer tone but also to represent Cory being present among his friends.
I turned into the, “It’s still real to me dammit!” guy from the wrestling convention a decade who was crying about the old NWA days while talking to the Terry Funk, Jim Cornette and the Midnight Express. It hit so close to home that I told Green it was as if he killed my best friend.
The emotions were overflowing because of my personal connection to the creator of one of my favorite creations. I met Charles Schulz in 2001, at the skating rink he frequented in Santa Rosa, CA, as we chatted about Read-Aloud Day. I spoke with his wife Jean Schulz and son Craig Schulz on the Fox lot during the press day of The Peanuts Movie in 2015. My best friend and I took second place in a costume contest as Charlie Brown and Linus. So when Green was able to tap into every single aspect of these characters it was as if he speaking to me directly.
- Overall Score
It’s damn near perfect. Good Grief is the independent movie of the year.