This review originally ran December 23rd, 2011. I still adore this Christmas special!
As we get ever closer to Christmas Day we’re hitting the best Christmas films to watch. This isn’t a film per se, it’s a television special, but it’s iconic to Christmas. It’s the 1965 special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, one of the greatest specials devoted to a character having an existential Christmas crisis. I love this movie, but I also love to make fun of how serious it takes the material for a special devoted to children.
Charlie Brown (voiced by Peter Robbins) wants to know what Christmas is all about. In directing a Christmas play he sees all his friends are only interested in the material side of the holiday: money and presents. With a lonely tree in tow, Charlie Brown tries to figure out the true meaning of Christmas.
This is another in a long line of “trying to find the meaning of Christmas” movies only explored through the eyes of children. Charlie Brown is morose, much like most of the Peanuts movies, because like most children his friends are interested in presents. The abrasive Lucy (voiced by Tracy Stratford) tells him he has a fear of everything. I love how seriously these kids talk and they’re like 8. Charlie Brown essentially brings everyone down with his “What’s Christmas all about” angle, but then again the rest of the kids are douchebags too. They don’t think Charlie Brown can do anything, which is kinda true, he can’t even kick a football; but when he brings home a lonely little tree they ask him why he’s still living.
The best part is Snoopy, whose actually a bit of a player in this special. He enters his doghouse in a Christmas contest and gets to dance on top of Schroeder‘s piano! On top of that, you have one of the most memorable Christmas scores by Vince Guaraldi and some of the best dance sequences committed to television (my personal favorite is the kid who keeps turning his head back and forth).
Since the special’s only about twenty minutes there’s not really a lot to discuss. I love this special no matter how harshly I rag on it and Linus‘ speech is still sweet, and I’m only mildly religious. But I stand by the fact that Charlie Brown’s the original Debbie Downer!
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A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.