Tag Archives: Charlie Brown

My Thoughts on: Who Are You, Charlie Brown? (2021)

I was delighted to receive the opportunity to screen Who Are You, Charlie Brown? ahead of its June 25th release on Apple TV+. This is a documentary that takes a fresh look at the life and legacy of Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts and everyone’s favorite lovable loser, Charlie Brown.

One detail that really drew me into Who Are You, Charlie Brown? is that this isn’t a straight up documentary. While we spend plenty of time listening to well-known figures recounting their love and recollections of iconic Peanuts moments and characters, as well as numerous archival clips of Schulz recounting his own experiences, the entire thing is woven around a newly made Peanuts cartoon, where Charlie Brown has to deal with the seemingly monumental task of writing a 500 word essay about who he is. As the documentary takes us through Peanuts history, Charlie Brown revisits some of the most iconic characters and locations seen throughout the history of the comic strip: the baseball field, Lucy’s psychiatric help desk, Schroeder and his piano, Linus standing by the brick wall, Snoopy and his fight with the Red Baron, and so on. As Charlie Brown comes to understand who he is, we also come to a better understanding of who Charles Schulz was, and gain a greater appreciation for Peanuts at the same time.

As a lifelong fan of Peanuts, I already knew a lot of the information presented in this documentary, but I didn’t know a lot about the cartoonist’s early years, and this period was covered in touching detail. With added input from the artist’s widow, you really get a feel for how Charles Schulz grew into the man who gave us some of the most iconic cartoon characters to ever exist. We actually get to hear quite a lot from the man himself from clips taken from over the years of his life. It was quite touching to see so much of Schulz, given that he’s been gone for 21 years (a day I’ll always remember because that was the day the last Peanuts strip was published).

On top of all this, what really brings this documentary together for me is the great music from Jeff Morrow. It to be extremely difficult to write music for a series that features some iconic pieces from Vince Guaraldi, but Morrow really pulls it off. The music throughout sounds like it came straight out of the world of Peanuts and he makes sure to cite some of Guaraldi’s greatest hits along the way.

While not nearly as long, Who Are You, Charlie Brown? reminded me in all the best ways of the 2018 Fred Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? because it gives insight into a beloved creator (in this case Charles Schulz) and we get to hear from a number of people who talk about Schulz and his work on Peanuts.

Who Are You, Charlie Brown? is available exclusively on Apple TV+ as of June 25, 2021 and I highly recommend checking it out, it was a lot of fun to watch.

Let me know what you think about Who Are You, Charlie Brown? in the comments below and have a great day!

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My Thoughts on: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

One of the great things about October is that it’s now time for one of my favorite Peanuts animated specials, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I grew up watching the Peanuts holiday specials (this one, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and A Charlie Brown Christmas), and as a result I hold them all very close to my heart. While many think of A Charlie Brown Christmas as the Peanuts special, I think it could be argued that It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is just as good as its Christmas counterpart.

As you might guess from the title card, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is set on Halloween, as everyone gets ready to celebrate in their own way. One of the things I love best about this special is that Charlie Brown actually gets invited and goes to Violet’s Halloween party; just seeing his happiness at getting the invitation warms my heart every single time (being a victim of bullying, I’ve always taken issue with how Charlie Brown gets treated by the other kids). And, as usual, Linus is preparing to meet the Great Pumpkin, a Halloween entity similar to Santa Claus that only he believes in, much to Lucy’s embarrassment (and the amusement of everyone else).

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Part of what makes It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown so endearing is how much fun it is to watch. From the moment Linus and Lucy set out to choose a pumpkin, to the end when Linus vows to see the Great Pumpkin “this time, next year” the jokes and animated mayhem never really stop. The humor is innocent, pure, and a reminder of what it was like to celebrate Halloween as a kid, which is a big part of why I love it so much.

Of course, I can’t leave a review about It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown without discussing what happens with Sally and Linus. I can’t tell you how many years I felt terrible on Sally’s behalf: she ends up spending the entire night in the pumpkin patch, only for Linus to mistake Snoopy for the Great Pumpkin. Upon realizing that she’s missed Halloween for nothing, Sally lets loose on Linus in a tirade for the ages:

I was robbed! I spent the whole night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, when I could’ve been out for tricks-or-treats! Halloween is over and I missed it! You blockhead! You kept me up all night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, and all that came was a beagle! I didn’t get a chance to go out for tricks-or-treats, and it was all your fault! I’ll sue! What a fool I was! I could’ve had candy, apples, and gum! And cookies and money and all sorts of things, but no! I had to listen to you. You blockhead. What a fool I was. Trick-or-treats come only once a year. And I miss it by sitting in a pumpkin patch with a blockhead.

YOU OWE ME RESTITUTION!!!

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(quick side note: Sally’s voice actress actually couldn’t pronounce “restitution” no matter how much she tried, so the sound people had her pronounce each individual syllable and then strung it together to make it sound like she says the word)

I can almost quote Sally’s diatribe from memory, but it never gets old. And the look on Linus’ face after Sally gets through with him has me in stitches every single time. There’s also the subplot of Snoopy pretending to be a World War I flying ace that is as brilliant as it sounds.

If you’ve never seen any of the Peanuts specials before, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown provides the perfect jumping off point. Despite being 53 years old, the special feels as fresh and funny as ever.

Let me know what you think about It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown in the comments below and have a great day!

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