CHARLIE BROWN’S CHRISTMAS TALES
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
With Christmastime coming again and again to the Charlie Brown universe, there’s only so many times one can watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” So in 2002, the Peanuts holiday special took a different approach. Rather than telling a long-form story over the course of a half-hour, “Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales” offers several vignettes about Christmas from the Peanuts gang.
Several gags, taken from the comic strip, including Snoopy as a bell-ringer, Linus trying to compose the perfect letter to Santa, Sally’s confusion about Samantha Claus and the kids staying up to catch the big man in the act.
WHAT I LIKED
The best part of this Peanuts Christmas DVD is that it isn’t just a rehash of the seminal television special “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Like the 90s follow-up “It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown,” this special relies on gags rather than a continuing story. It’s actually quite cute, playing more like a series of sketches than a full television special.
Snoopy, of course, steals the show as he literally wears many hats. Also, Linus pondering his letter to Santa is quite funny and taps into the charm of the original comic strip. After all, how many different kids-writing gags did Schulz rely on over the years.
Decades after the original Peanuts Christmas special, this manages to keep the holiday fresh and true to form to the original source.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
It seems like it’s impossible to watch any lesser-known Peanuts special without comparing it to the originals. Can you watch a Christmas episode without thinking of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”? Can you watch one that takes place in the fall without thinking of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”?
Now that Warner Bros. has held the rights to the Peanuts library for several years, they have done a fantastic job releasing all the specials. This isn’t the best special out there, but it’s nice to watch for Peanuts fans. Just don’t expect something as fantastic as the original.
Still, at the very least, this is a way to see a Peanuts special you might have otherwise missed.
This DVD comes with the bonus episode, the 80s special “Is This Goodbye, Charlie Brown?” In this installment, Linus and Lucy discover their dad is getting a new job out of town, and they have to move. This leads all of the Peanuts having to deal with the impending loss… and Snoopy finally gets a crack at owning Linus’s blanket.
Like the title feature on this disc, “Is This Goodbye, Charlie Brown?” is not the greatest Peanuts special, but it is one you probably have missed, so you can catch it now on DVD.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Children and fans of Peanuts.