A Boy Named Charlie Brown Reviews
However, there are some very memorable things about the film - I already mentioned the jaw harp "I before E" sequence that stuck with me for going on forty years, and I love some of the more loveable parts like Linus's dance with his blanket when he gets it back from having been "lost" by Charlie Brown. And I did appreciate (especially now that televisions have adopted the more theater-like "widescreen" aspect ratio) how the scenes were composed to take advantage of the larger format of the film screen. I realize that this is a Peanuts classic, and it certainly has those things going for it, but those few glaring weaknesses keep me from giving it four or five stars.
(Full review coming soon)
The characters are great. The somewhat hapless yet eternally optimistic Charlie Brown is, of course, very easy to root for. Then we have Linus, Charlie's sage companion who has a childish habit of carrying around a blue blanket(which he refers to as his ''spiritual tourniquet''). Lucy Van Pelt is a bit like a precursor to Angelica Pickles from the Rugrats; Bossy and temperamental, she is quick to point out Charlie's many flaws. And, of course, there's Snoopy. The most iconic beagle of time provides hilarious visual gags and some splendid mouth-harp playing.
The story is slight, but contains buckets of wit, charm and wisdom: Essentially Charlie Brown is feeling a little depressed. From pitching at baseball to flying a kite, he just can't seem to get anything right. In an experiment to see if he is truly doomed to failure, Charlie decides to enter the school spelling bee. The movie has a surreal edge and a lot of humour that would probably go over the heads of small children. The kids in the movie don't speak exactly like every day real kids, but rather convey an endearing and frequently hilarious blend of smart-aleck precociousness and vulnerable childishness.
To raise a sore point, there are some truly horrible songs in this movie, courtesy of Rod McKuen. They really don't seem to match the tone of the movie at all, and the lyrics are so lazy and clumsy it's as if they were thrown together in five minutes. Luckily, most of them are ignorable enough, save for the mopie and violin-laden 'Charlie has a Way,' which is almost unendurable. Good grief it's bad! Such sap is an insult to the genuinely smart script and bright characters. All in all, though, this is a very funny and smart movie, which also sports a brilliant message of stoic endurance in the face of adversity.