For 45 years, A Charlie Brown Christmas has been a staple of holiday TV specials. The timeless classic features Charlie Brown searching for the true meaning of Christmas amidst the insults from his peers and his own dog embracing the commercialism surrounding the holiday.
A Charlie Brown Christmas finds Charlie Brown depressed over the Christmas holiday. In an attempt to help cheer him up, Lucy van Pelt suggests he direct the rest of the gang’s Christmas play. However, the others aren’t feeling the Christmas spirit, instead opting to modernize and add flashy elements to the performance. Even Charlie Brown’s dog, Snoopy, prefers to embrace the commercial side of the holiday by entering a neighborhood Christmas lights and display contest. It takes a powerful speech from Linus van Pelt to help Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang to realize what Christmas is really about.
Being the first animated adaptation of Charles M. Schulz’s popular Peanuts, the feature is marred by more than its fair share of technical difficulties. There are some instances where the animation can be a bit stiff, or the lip syncing animations don’t match the voices. In contrast, the music is one of the most recognizable scores in film. Vince Guaraldi’s jazz soundtrack sets the perfect mix of child-like qualities with an adult sound, paralleling the feature’s tone. In fact, Linus and Lucy, the piece that most people associate with the Peanuts made its debut in A Charlie Brown Christmas.
All of the minor gripes that we’d hold against contemporary animated films don’t really hold A Charlie Brown Christmas back. Rather, the most important aspect of the feature is its message. As stated earlier, it’s been airing for 45 years and with good reason. Besides the fact that it features the popular Peanuts gang, the special has proved to be so popular because of the simple, but effective message. In the face of the commercialization of Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas sets out to bring Christmas back to basics. While I’m personally not a fan of the Christian message Schulz was adamant to include, it helps present the message of good will and nature that Christmas ultimately is about.
A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of the best Christmas features, up there in the same realm as Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Carol. Christmas simply isn’t Christmas with Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang helping you remember what the holiday is truly about. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Overall Score: 8.00 – Great. (Movies that score between 8.00 and 8.50 are great representations of their genre that everyone should see in theaters on opening night.)
If you’ve never seen A Charlie Brown Christmas, you’ve never really experienced Christmas. While the animation and voice acting haven’t really stood the test of time, the message is timeless and relevant, even decades after its debut.