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Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales (2002) Movie Review

Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales (2002)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Series: A Peanuts Movie
Starring: Wesley Singerman, Serena Berman, Corey Padnos, Megan Taylor Harvey, Chrystopher Ryan Johnson
Director: Larry Leichliter
Release Date: 8 December 2002
Language: English
Length: 18 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: Online Streaming
My Rating: image_thumb82_thumb1_thumb1

Synopsis:

The Peanuts gang is ready to celebrate Christmastime again in this new holiday special.  Lucy (voice by Serena Berman) tries to persuade Schroeder (voice by Chrystopher Ryan Johnson)  to go ice skating.  Snoopy gathers money for charity while dressed as Santa Claus.  Linus (voice by Corey Padnos) doesn’t know what he wants for Christmas and struggles to write a letter to Santa Claus.  Sally (voice by Megan Taylor Harvey) decides to make everyone a gift this year.  Charlie Brown (voice by Wesley Singerman) attempts to make a Christmas card for the cute little red-haired girl in his class.  Join your favorite Peanuts characters as they prepare for Christmas.

Review:

This Christmas special was a bit of a mixed bag for me.  I enjoyed it, but it was very abrupt and quite brief.  It clocks in at app. 17 minutes (you can watch the whole video above!) so it couldn’t even be broadcast on TV as a half-hour Linus Writes a Letter to Santaspecial unless they padded it with a lot of commercials!  They had some really funny ideas to present in the cartoon, but they were all so short!  Instead of trying to come up with some longer plot lines to thread through the smaller vignettes, they just kind of lump them all together and jump from character to character and idea to idea without any link between them.  It felt like I was watching all of Charles Schultz’s Christmas comic strips in an animated form.  Each thought could have been rather easily adapted to a Sunday comic strip format, which works great in a newspaper, but is not quite as entertaining in a cartoon.

All of the main characters have an opportunity to participate in several brief sequences.  Charlie Brown (voice by Wesley Singerman) pops up quite frequently, but he is not really the star in this special.  He is mainly the foil for other characters as they need his help with other activities.  Charlie Brown is Snoopy as Santa Clausembarrassed to walk Snoopy (voice by Bill Melendez) to the corner where he plays Santa Claus to gather funds for charity.  He also wants to know why Lucy (voice by Serena Berman) cannot agree to be nice to him all year long when Lucy approaches him to say that one of her holiday resolutions is to treat him more kindly.  Lucy seems to be the star here and she and her brothers, Linus (voice by Corey Padnos) and Rerun (voice by Timmy Deters), appear in most of the cartoon.  In the beginning, Lucy ignores Snoopy, a wonderful ice skater, to try to persuade Shroeder (voice by Chrystopher Ryan Lucy Watching Snoopy SkateJohnson) to partner her in the skating show, but Shroeder is a hockey player and refuses to join her.  Rerun asks Snoopy (thinking he is Santa Claus) why Santa didn’t bring him everything on the list the previous year, only be scared off by Snoopy.  Linus tries several times to write a letter to Santa Claus – including giving Santa permission to skip their house! – until he finally gives up and just tells Santa to bring him a surprise.  Linus then tries to send a Christmas card to a girl that he likes in his class who sits behind him, but the little girl changes her name every day and he doesn’t know who to address it to!

Sally (voice by Megan Taylor Harvey) provides some of the funniest sequences as she is young enough to not really understand everything that is going on.  She decides to make paper airplanes for everyone as a Christmas gift this year.  Sally then proceeds to write a letter to Samantha Claus and, rather than correcting Sally's Treeher, Charlie Brown just lets her go on believing what she wants to believe.  It is the other children at school who set her straight!  Sally also tries to get a Christmas tree for her family, but she doesn’t know how to cut down a tree.  She decides that she will just stare at a tree until it falls down and then bring it home.  However, the owners of the tree do not quite agree that the tree belongs to Sally.  This was one of the longer stories and it was quite entertaining.  I feel that the writers of this Christmas special could have done a bit more to extend any and/or all of these subplots into a 2 – 5 minute sequence instead of a 30 seconds – 1 minute sequence.  It just felt like all of the stories were so rushed!  I didn’t even have a chance to do more than smile in reaction before the next story was up on the screen!

This Christmas special will appeal to little children most of all as I am sure that they will appreciate the brevity.  The Peanuts gang is also given a face-lift and the colors are brighter with a slightly different style of animation than the Charlie's Christmas Cardoriginal Peanuts specials.  The characters are all still recognizable, however, and the vocal talents are similar enough to the originals that none of the new voices jumped out at me in a negative way.  Even though this is not my favorite Peanuts special, there is still a great deal to enjoy.  This special is so short and moves so rapidly that there is always time to squeeze it into my holiday viewing, which is a definite plus.  If you are a fan of the Peanuts gang or looking for a fun cartoon to share with some little kids around the holidays, this is a nice little filler.

Content:

This cartoon features some mild violence and rather stunning verbal put downs.  Appropriate for viewers of all ages.  Recommended for ages 2 and up.

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Filed under Animated Movies, Children & Family Movies, Christmas

A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969) Movie Review

A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)

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
Language: English
Length: 86 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis:

“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

Review:

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 Charlie Brown Championrent 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 Charlie Brown on the Pitchers Moundpoor 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 Lucy Showing Charlie Brown His FaultsLinus 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 Linus Playing Pianothe 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 Charlie Brown at the Spelling Beespelling 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!

Content:

This movie contains some slapstick, cartoonish violence.  Appropriate for ages 3 and up.

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Filed under Animated Movies, Children & Family Movies, Comedy Movies, Musicals