Does Charlie Brown ever have a normal, boring Christmas?
Charlie Brown's that little boy that nobody wants to spend time with. That's ironic considering how much his first Christmas movie—creatively titled A Charlie Brown Christmas—has become a classic, must-see of the season.
Charlie Brown is asked to be the director for a production of the nativity at school. I don't know what they think a director does considering how much they don't do a thing he says. Moreover, there isn't a single grownup helping them with this? And when I see them "practicing", it really makes me wonder what they think the Nativity is.
There are three main things that people seem to always remember from this one.
Charlie Brown picking the scrawniest excuse for a Christmas tree ever seen and being laughed off the stage
Linus stepping forward to recite key Bible verses from the Christmas story
Snoopy doing that little happy-bunny-on-speed dance
It's amazing to look back and realize that this one was never expected to even be any good, let alone remembered and replayed for decades. They used real kids instead of adults pretending to be kids. They went with a contemporary, jazzy piano score that kinda rubbed the network execs the wrong way. They had to figure out, for the first time, how to take Charles Schulz' still comics and generate a full-fleshed animation technique. (Charlie Brown's little curly-Q on his forehead is more problematic than you might expect.)
When the product was done, they sat around, watched it and said, "Oh my gosh. We've broken Charlie Brown." They figured it would play once, disappear into the background and never be thought of again.
It's interesting to see how wrong some people can be.
Yes there are elements that lack polish. They also lack Polish, but for a completely different reason.
Personally it's the slightly rough production that makes this one endearing. Not that I wouldn't have liked it if they'd gone with more traditional production decisions. I can't even imagine what that would be like since this is how the Peanuts gang is now enshrined forever in the public consciousness.
Saddly, the success of A Charlie Brown Christmas ends up overshaddowing other Charlie Brown Christmas specials that are also worth noting. For instance, if you buy it on DVD, you also get It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown, which follows young Chuck and the rest of the gang as they prepare for Christmas in their own ways, ending with a production of the Christmas Nativity with Peppermint Patty as a rather confused sheep.
The script is taken from classic Schulz strips and works wonderfully on the small screen. It suffers a little in comparison to the first Christmas special, but shouldn't be overlooked.
A Charlie Brown Christmas gets a 9 / 10, while It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown gets a 7 / 10.
Made for TV, A Charlie Brown Christmas has been rated TV-G (retroactively, no doubt) while It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown has been left unrated for all you out there who insist on getting the unrated version of everything that comes out.
- Christmas movies - what makes them classic and just how many of them do we need?
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