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A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

by on 2010/12/15


“You’re hopeless, Charlie Brown.”

* *

Remember my displeasure with The Frighteners?  Well, there’s a new pariah in town, and its name is A Charlie Brown Christmas, a piece I loathe nearly to the core.

Not having grown up with this made-for-TV special, it holds no personal point of reference for me, though I’ve heard of its popularity, and its Emmy and Peabody wins.  Ostensibly an “anti-commercial” parable cartoon, it yokes the unfunny Peanuts gang into selling religion to children.

Charlie Brown, depressed and surly, mopes his way through various predicaments.  Faced with the dread and derision of all he meets, he is made to feel both useless and unloved.  Then he is quoted a non sequitur religious passage and suddenly all is right in his world.

What a crock . . . transparent clumsy claptrap.

I’ve heard that television executives originally took umbrage with the preachiness of the special.  Peanuts creator Charles Schultz implored them, “If we don’t say it, who will?”  My question is, “What of substance has Schultz actually said here?”  He’s created not mainstream entertainment but a shallow and obvious trifle fit only as Sunday school filler.

And though it pretends to be otherwise, it’s a mean-spirited, spiteful travesty.

Proselytizing aside, there is little to recommend this distraction.  The animation is primitive, even for its era, the characters are unsympathetic, and poorly written.  The story and its constituent beats are unfunny, unmoving, with nothing but rote to impart.

The only reason this propaganda avoids a single star is the perfect soundtrack by late jazz-man Vince Guaraldi.  I consider it an abject pity that his brilliant legacy should be shackled to this nonsensical crap.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a sucker for Christmas movies, even some with religious agendas.  But A Charlie Brown Christmas is dogmatic, hypocritical nonsense, inept in all but its sound.  At 25 minutes in length, it’s still too long by far.

* *

Rated G

25 minutes

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