A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
What’s It About: Charlie Brown is an extremely whiny little boy. He’s so whiny that he’ll even whine about the thing kids love the most: Christmas.
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- Right off the bat Charlie Brown is complaining about Christmas. Seriously what the hell is wrong with this kid? If only they had Paxil back then.
- Awesome music.
- Where are the parents?
- “I never eat December snowflakes, I always wait to January.” So hilarious…
- Good grief this is boring.
- So Snoopy decorates his doghouse for a contest and Charlie Brown says he’s gone commercial. Dude your dog just decorated! And he can play the guitar! Maybe YOU’RE the one who’s ungrateful.
- Did they really need a 2 year old to do Sally’s voice? It’s cute and all but sounds like a bird trying to chirp Latin.
- I’m really not actively trying to dislike this, but man I’m bored.
- I think I’m more than halfway through and nothing has happened.
- Lucy calls lunch break and Charlie Brown says, “Lunch?! You just came off a coffee break!”
- Man these kids are depressing.
- Why would the tree lot even be in possession of that sickly little branch and display it like that?
- This adorable dog is dancing to piano music and these kids give him the evil eye? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM???
- So Charlie Brown was supposed to get a “good tree” and everyone gives him shit about the little one he got, but how was he supposed to afford a good tree?
- Oh christ, Linus is talking about Christ…
- I don’t get Linus’s point. But I’m not a Jesus guy.
- I really don’t understand why people like this. I really don’t.
- Why is Charlie Brown upset that Snoopy won first place in the decorating contest? Shouldn’t he be happy that his dog won a contest? How can you be upset being the owner of a dog that does so many amazing, human-like things? Nobody in town seems to appreciate Snoopy at all! In fact, they all seem to hate him.
- How did the kids make Charlie Brown’s tree fuller?
- Charlie Brown is just pissed off and sad all the time. Why would anyone want to be his friend?
Is It Actually Jolly: Not at all, it’s depressing pretty much all the way through. The jazz music is fantastic, though.
Jolliest Moment: All the kids coming together at the end and being nice for once.
Dumbest Moment: The whole special is dumb and goes nowhere and only seems to exist so Charles Schulz could quote The Bible on TV. The anti-commercialism aspect is ridiculous for a special that appeared on a major network that ran it with commercial breaks. Plus, there’s this:
The original broadcast included some brief animated sections which included the logo of Coca-Cola, the show’s original sponsor. These have been edited out of subsequent broadcasts and the video release. Right after the opening title, Linus crashed into a sign advertising Coca-Cola after being tossed by Snoopy. (Look at current versions and you’ll notice that we never see where Linus lands!) The closing carol originally included the complete verse (instead of fading out) with a final on-screen “Merry Christmas from your local bottler of Coca-Cola” right after the United Feature Syndicate credit at the end.
Over the years, the Peanuts characters have appeared in ads for Dolly Madison snack cakes, Chex Mix, Bounty, Cheerios, A&W Root Beer, Kraft Foods, and Ford automobiles. Pig-Pen appeared in a memorable spot for Regina vacuum cleaners.
They are currently spokespeople in print and television advertisements for the MetLife insurance company. MetLife usually uses Snoopy in its advertisements as opposed to other characters: for instance, the MetLife blimps are named “Snoopy One” and “Snoopy Two” and feature him in his World War I flying ace persona. Starting in 2011, the annual New York Giants and New York Jets preseason football game is called the MetLife Bowl. The winning team receives a trophy which depicts Snoopy carrying a football, wearing an old-style football helmet and holding his arm up as if to ward off a tackler.
The characters have been featured on Hallmark Cards since 1960, and can be found adorning clothing, figurines, plush dolls, flags, balloons, posters, Christmas ornaments, and countless other bits of licensed merchandise.
So, yeah, awesome stance against commercialism, Schulz.
Overall: I’ve never liked Charlie Brown. Even as a kid I thought these specials were boring. Well I haven’t watched A Charlie Brown Christmas in probably around 25 years, so I was curious to see if watching it now as an adult would change my mind. Nope. It’s just as bland as I remember. All of these kids are just little jerks desperately in need of parental guidance but parents don’t exist in this strange world. It’s basically Children of the Corn. Much like Rudolph, this special is fueled by pure, blind nostalgia. Since I wasn’t tangled up in that, watching it now I was just bored and struggling to even pay attention. Not being a religious person in any way, Linus’s harangue at the end was jarring to me, and really punctuated how much I dislike this special. Give me Fat Albert any time.
Score: 3 stands against the commercialization of Christmas (brought to you by R.O.T.O.R. Home Security and Shakma Shakes) (out of 10)
BONUS: After I finished watching this I texted Brad, who grew up watching this special and has fond memories for it, and we had this exchange: