Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Peter Robbins, Pamelyn Ferdin, Glenn Gilger, Andy Pforsich, Erin Sullivan
Director: Bill Melendez
Series: a Peanuts movie
Release Date: 4 December 1969
Length: 86 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
“The lovable kids from Charles Schulz’s popular comic strip “Peanuts” star in their first full-length animated film, which features now-iconic scenes such as Lucy tricking Charlie Brown by pulling away the football he’s about to kick. Other memorable scenes include Snoopy ice-skating with abandon in Central Park, Linus losing his security blanket and Charlie Brown competing in the National Spelling Bee. The film earned an Oscar nod for Best Score.” — Netflix.com
I remember watching this movie when I was a kid, but didn’t think it was anything special. In fact, it seemed like there were a lot of rather boring parts! I don’t know what caused me to rent it again, but I am so glad that I did! Now that I am older and have more experience, this movie resonated with me and definitely kept me entertained! I don’t know if it is because I have had so many disappointments in my life or that I can relate with Charlie Brown and his hopes and dreams. Too bad that Charlie Brown rarely succeeds in achieving what he reaches out for! What I love the most about Charlie now is that he never gives up. He looks forward to a new baseball season, keeps going back to Lucy for advice and keeps trying to get Snoopy to act like a real dog. I watch Charlie Brown in this movie and think that my life isn’t really that bad. I am not sure that I would be willing to get out of bed in the morning if I had Charlie Brown’s life!
Lucy is a huge part of what makes this movie so funny – too bad she has such a mean-spirited sense of humor! She made me laugh throughout the film, but then I felt bad for laughing as poor Charlie Brown was always the butt of her jokes. When Charlie Brown gets hit in the head with a baseball and Linus calls for first aid, Lucy’s reply is “I don’t think it’s that serious. Second or third aid should do.” Later, trying to capitalize on Charlie Brown’s success and get him prepared for the spelling bee, Lucy proclaims “You have a smile like a sick pumpkin.” I don’t remember Lucy being funny when I was a kid, but, now that I am an adult, she is hilarious! Lucy always manages to come up with these zingy little one liners that are hysterical, but you have to pay close attention or you will miss out. There is also some terrific physical comedy when Snoopy is involved. While Linus is fainting in Charlie Brown’s hotel room because he is missing his blanket, Snoopy keeps running and getting water. But Snoopy doesn’t use the water to revive Linus, Snoopy drinks it himself! Another favorite part of mine was when Lucy was itemizing Charlie Brown’s faults one-by-one using photographs and video clips to illustrate them! Seriously, who is told be a (kind of) friend that their faults include: failure to deal with life in a vertical position, tendency towards fatness (including toes), etc. Again, it is bad to be laughing at this poor little boy, but you just cannot help it!
The music is beautiful in this movie. The theme song “Boy Named Charlie Brown” is both melancholy and hopeful and I enjoyed the performance at the beginning and the end of the movie of this featured song. There are a few silly, fun songs performed by the kids in the movie, but most of the soundtrack features classical music. I remember these parts as being the most boring when I was a kid, but now I really enjoy the long, peaceful interludes. It is so clever of the filmmakers to use copyright-free music that ties in with a music-loving character in Linus. But the best part of this movie as far as sound goes is the vocal talents of the children who performed in it. I love that they used actual kids to deliver the lines. You get little pauses and different phrasing that professional or adult performers would not have included. I really felt like I was listening to children. Granted, these children act like little adults, but there is still a childish glee and zest to their actions and their voices that I enjoyed very much.
The more I watch this movie, the more I enjoy it these days. I highly recommend that you watch it again if you saw this movie when you were a child. I guarantee that you will see the film in a whole new light and that it will resonate with you in a completely different way. There is guaranteed to be a vignette that calls especially to you. Will it be when Charlie Brown is trying to convince his team to really try to win a ball game this year? How about when Lucy is using a video to show Charlie Brown his many faults and try to convince him that kicking a football will solve all of them? Perhaps it will be the fact that Charlie Brown goes so far in the spelling bee competition only to falter at the very end on an easy word? There are so many little moments of humor and some really great animation for those who are looking and paying attention that I guarantee something will catch your eye. Again, I am not sure that this film is particularly well-suited to young children, despite being animated. The pacing of the film is really uneven and there is not enough overt comedy to keep young children entertained. There is plenty of fun and frivolity for big kids, however!
This movie contains some slapstick, cartoonish violence. Appropriate for ages 3 and up.