Making the Grades
If you are familiar with the TV adaptations of Peanuts, such as A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, then you will immediately notice a few differences between those animations and this short film. While all are based on Charles Schultz’ characters, the latter is missing Vince Guaraldi’s iconic score and Snoopy has suddenly learned to speak.
The reason You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown feels unusual is because the script didn’t start out the same way as the other TV Specials. Instead, it is a small screen adaptation of a large and successful stage play that opened Off Broadway in 1967, with music and lyrics penned by Clark Gesner. The decision to animate the live performance and make a video version didn’t come about until 1985. And now with this DVD release, families can bring home the singing Charlie Brown (Kevin Brando).
The plot plays out like a series of comic strips that introduce various musical numbers. Over the course of 48 minutes the consistent losing streak of the luckless, but loveable, young boy is repeatedly demonstrated. From the challenges of trying to fly a kite to the humiliation of the baseball diamond, we watch a determined Charlie Brown (speaking voice by Brad Kesten) doggedly persist where most of us would have given up. Struggling for acceptance, we observe his lonely lunch hours, jealousy when his dog gets more Valentines than himself (he gets none), and longing for some notice from the Little Redheaded Girl.
Other characters also get a chance in the spotlight, such as Lucy (voiced by Jessie Lee Smith) as she flirts with Schroeder (voiced by Jeremy Reinbolt) and teaches her brother Linus (voiced by David Wagner) everything she thinks she knows about nature. Snoopy (voiced by Robert Towers) reveals his darker side when fantasizing about biting someone. And the whole gang joins in a complaint about homework and the trials of having to write a book report.
Aside from the trademark name-calling, mild bullying and slapstick clumsiness, there will be little here to offend anyone of any age. However, the disjointed storyline and frequent musical interludes may leave some viewers feeling rather wishy-washy about the whole production. Still, as the movie wraps up with a feel-good ode to happiness, and the under-appreciated hero continues to smile with optimistic anticipation, most fans will agree: You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.
The character Charlie Brown endures a lot of verbal abuse and bullying from those around him. Why does he put up with it? How does it affect him? Would these portrayals be as humorous if we were witnessing them in real life?
Do you relate to any of the experiences or characters depicted in the comic strip that inspired this movie?
What would you say accounts for the enduring popularity of Charles Schultz Peanut Gang?