A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969) Poster

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Close to the spirit of the strip in terms of content and animation but also contains imaginative additions
bob the moo30 July 2004
Charlie Brown is a young boy who cannot ever seem to do anything right. His baseball team always loses the first and last games of the season (as well as most of the ones in between) and he gets the blame. He never gets a moment's rest from his friends putting him down as the designated goat – even his dog gives him a rough ride. Determined to show that he is more than just a failure, Charlie enters the school spelling bee, aiming for victory – but can he stand up under the pressure that awaits him? Meanwhile Linus goes cold-turkey.

I have seen several of the Peanuts features and have enjoyed them as a fan but been the first to put my hands up and say that they are neither great films or totally captured the spirit of the strip. However with this feature I am pleased to report that it was pretty much spot on in both regards. The plot starts well and the first half of the film is an enjoyable collection of episodes that act like individual strips while still moving the film forward. The second half moves into more solid territory with the spelling-bee but even then it keeps it together and is well structured. The humour of the piece will appeal to those who enjoy the strip – not hilarious but it has some funny moments as well as the amusing philosophising that they all do. The film benefits from imaginative writing that adds humour in various ways – Snoopy drinking the water and Linus going cold-turkey are two such examples. Only the actual spelling bee final is a little slow as it is a couple of minutes of spelling!

The film isn't heavy with songs like other features I've seen and the animation is nicely close to the strip and pleased me as a fan. However, again an added bonus, the animation opens out every now and again to become something much more sublime (and that word is not an exaggeration). Snoopy taking to ice becomes a blur of colour, while Linus playing the piano becomes close to art! It may not be as polished as Disney but it is really cool and imaginative while still staying within the Peanuts style. The voice work is all good – a little flat at times but it suits the characters (of course I'm used to them by now so I didn't have the 'problem' of imagining them myself first).

Another reviewer has put this film on a par with Fantasia and, while I wouldn't say that, I can see what they mean. The plot moves the film forward but also manages to capture the spirit of the strip really well. Likewise the animation is very close to the strip and is pleasing to watch. Both these aspects are made better by a series of imaginative touches – in the writing it is funny little gags and the strips' usual philosophising while in the animation it is a series of imaginative fantasy sequences that really make the film feel like something special. The most pleasing Peanuts movie I have seen.
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A Fantasia for the Sixties.
SanDiego30 March 2000
Saw this film in a theater when it was first released and it has stuck with me all these years. Nothing like the Disney films of that period, it truly inspired most cutting edge animation that exists today (from "The Simpsons" to "South Park"). The TV specials had already animated the tiny Peanut kids who philosophized like ivy league psychologists, but the big screen dabbled in artistic compositions of color and abstract art. Simply a treat. A Fantasia for the Sixties! The sequels never got so gutsy.
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Charlie Brown in his first feature!
fiascofilmsco26 June 2001
I saw this film first in 1969. I thought it was a cute little film then, as now.

This is the first Peanuts feature, and the last show using Peter Robbins as the voice of Charlie Brown.

In this film, Charlie Brown, our hero, has finally proved that he can do something right. He wins the spelling bee in his class. All the kids treat him with their usual lack of tact. He studies really hard and wins the championship at his school and gets to go to the "city" to be in the "National Elimination Spelling Bee" I will not spoil the ending.

Vince Guaraldi, the composer of the music for the six previous TV specials, is back for this one. There are new arrangements of the old music, plus several new songs by Rod McKuen. Guaraldi did not do the music for the next feature, Snoopy Come Home (1972) and that film suffers because of this.

Schroeder has a beautiful salute to Beethoven in this film. While the music plays, we see some beautiful abstract scenes and colors on the screen that look fantastic in Technicolor. Sadly, I have seen this sequence cut from TV showings.

Snoopy has a wonderful sequence while he and Linus are wandering around the city looking for his blanket that he sent with Charlie Brown for good luck. Snoopy discovers an ice skating rink and pretends that he is in a hockey match while he skates around the rink. He also has an encounter with the Red Baron that has some of the same animation that was used in "He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown! on TV.

One thing that I like about this film is when the closing credits are rolling, you get to see animated images of most of the principal creators of this film. Their names are on the right side of the screen, and their images appear on the left. Things like that entice me to sit through the credits instead of walking out as soon as they start.

If you have never seen this film, by all means rent it and see what you have been missing!
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The ultimate and epic Charlie Brown statement!
Ryuusei15 September 2000
A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN has got to be the ultimate Peanuts animation ever made! It's so epic, and it does a great job of showcasing the original Peanuts characters, especially the central character, Charlie Brown! It told a tragic story of Charlie Brown, the milquetoast little boy who works hard to be the best (trying everything from kite-flying to baseball to even competing at a spelling bee), so that he can be loved and respected by his friends, when, of course, he usually loses and his friends berate him. And only his best friend Linus tries to help Charlie Brown succeed in life. There's also Snoopy, Charlie Brown's wonderful pet beagle, who does his usual crazy thing, from playing a WWI Flying Ace to skating on ice. Aside from creator Charles Schulz's screenplay, the great music score and songs by legendary jazz musician Vince Guaraldi, conductor John Scott Trotter, and gifted musician/poet/singer Rod McKuen really shines, and is the best score of any animated Peanuts project since the scores from all of the previous animated TV specials (only with more dimension)! It really needs a CD soundtrack! There's also some "artsy-fartsy" moments throughout the movie, including the Peanuts Gang saluting the National Anthem, Charlie Brown and Linus practicing "I before E, except after C," Schroeder playing Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata (2nd movt.) on his piano, and Snoopy skating at the Rockerfeller Center in NY, where Charlie Brown goes for the national spelling bee, but these are great images that make this movie all the more unusual! This movie made its premiere at the Radio City Music Hall in December of '69 (incidentally Rod McKuen performed one of the movie's songs months earlier at his birthday concert at Carnegie Hall, which can be purchased on a CD called "Rod McKuen: At Carnegie Hall"). There was also a documentary of the same name (the soundtrack of which is available on CD), which was transformed into CHARLIE BROWN AND CHARLES SCHULZ the same year this movie was released.

In summary, A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN is the best of the Peanuts movies, and the best Peanuts animated project since A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS (the first Peanuts TV special)! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
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A good film
newkidontheblock28 June 2004
A Boy Named Charlie Brown is a solid film in my opinion. Great music, a good plot, and real trippy animation and montages. Vince G. really out did himself for this one.

The basic concept of this movie is that Charlie Brown is fed up with his title as a loser, a failure and a wash-out, so he gets in the class spelling bee and wins. He's finally heralded as a winner, life is sweet.

Well, after chilling out for a while, he studies for the all state spelling bee with the help of his best friend Linus, who gives him his beloved blanket for good luck. Now for the sub-plot

Linus is slowly sinking in his own personal hell because of the absents of his blue blanket, so they (Snoopy and Linus) go to the location of the bee and catch up with Charlie who is sleeping at the time. Snoopy abandons Linus and goes ice skating with the song "skating" playing in the background. To find out the end of the film, you'll just have to rent it from your local video store

Like i said earlier, I very much enjoyed the Music in this film. Very 60's, but still staying true to the peanuts style of music. I very much enjoyed the theme song to the movie and there rendition of the national anthem. So bravo Boy Named Charlie Brown, you are truly a good film
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An animated film that would make Bergman proud!
Preston-1017 June 2001
The PEANUTS films, coming from a student of international cinema, have contained some of the truest statements I have borne witness to in my life. If you were to really sit down and listen to what these characters say to each other you would be surprised at how much you can truly relate to them. A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN is the best of them because it does the best job combining the artistic with the humanistic. Even though this is a movie that is defined through a series of seemingly unrelated moments (a fantasized hockey game, a spelling bee, a beautiful performance on piano by Schroeder, a baseball game) this only adds to the closeness we feel toward the characters. The tragic sequence in the Film where Linus expresses remorse for lending Charlie Brown his literal "security blanket" and seeks to find it is a sequence that would make Bergman proud! I rarely recommend movies that I truly like but I have to say that A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN is a film for everyone!
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Charles Schultz at his comedic best
Monkasi22 July 2000
This groundbreaking animated film brought the bittersweet and somewhat bleak humor of Schultz's "Peanuts" comic strip to the big screen, with beautiful, lush artwork that has probably never been duplicated. Memorable scenes include Schroeder's piano concert; Snoopy ice-skating in Central Park; the New York City spelling bee (where the famous "wah-wah-wah" voice approves or disapproves of contestants' spellings); and a showstopping rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," complete with psychedelic red, white, and blue imagery. A wonderful cult classic.
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memorable moments in a wonderful animated movie
Quinoa198415 April 2006
This is another of the few Charlie Brown specials/movies that still sticks around in my mind. In fact, there are some scenes that, for one reason or another, still seem as fresh as ever. It's not the best of the specials, but it is a very good way to introduce one not terribly familiar to the Peanuts world because it makes use of almost all of the main characters and their trials, tribulations, quirks, and gifts. Like Charlie Brown's inadequacy with flying a kite, or Lucy's imperative to mess with the kid's head at most turns, or Linus's compulsive need for his blue blanket, or even Schroder's knack at the piano. Some of these revelations of character are charming and funny.

The animators also bring some interest and imagination to otherwise unnecessary (story-wise) scenes, like Schroder's piano sequence (as a kid I was a little perplexed but not now) and Snoopy's wonderful ice skating scene in the city. The plot is more for the kids than adults as Charlie Brown competes at the one thing that looks like his knack, the spelling bee, reaching to the highest competition and a chance to make himself no longer an outsider. Some of the songs accompanying the film are less than great and hamper on the amusing scenes. However this doesn't exclude how entertaining the special can be, with every spelling-bee scene worth the watch. And the conclusion is wholly satisfying for anyone in the audience, not a happy one but not compromised either.
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A very good but somewhat forgotten Peanuts feature film
AlsExGal9 December 2017
Sometimes the Peanuts cartoons can be a little corny, but I really liked this one. It was actually a little sad, even for Charlie Brown. Poor guy, why can't he ever win anything? In this particular film, Charlie Brown feels like a loser because he can't get his kite to fly, he can't play baseball and can't seem to do anything right. Of course, people like Lucy, Violet and Patty (not to be confused with Peppermint Patty) have to make sure he knows how much of a loser he is, even going as far as to sing a song called "Failure Face" to him. There is another scene of Charlie Brown visiting Lucy for psychiatric help and she reiterates how much of a loser he is. She even shows him a slide show she made to pinpoint every moment that Charlie is a failure.

In an attempt to overcome his inferiority complex and to prove to the other kids that he's not a loser, Charlie Brown decides to enter the school spelling bee. He ends up doing really well wins the school bee (Yay for Charlie Brown!). He is sent to a bigger spelling bee (I'm assuming he's either in a state spelling bee or perhaps a city wide spelling bee?), via the bus and even stays in a hotel. He runs himself ragged trying to study. Linus had given Charlie Brown his blanket as a good luck charm for the bee and then has a nervous breakdown being without the blanket. Snoopy and Linus ride the bus to find Charlie Brown and retrieve Linus' blanket.

There are of course some funny Snoopy scenes: Snoopy plays "The Star Spangled Banner" on a record player to start of the baseball game and later he has a funny ice skating/ice hockey scene. Snoopy also plays the jaw harp to help Charlie Brown write a song to learn all the basic spelling rules ('i' before 'e' except after 'c').

This film had all the delightful trademarks of a 1960s film: montages, bright colors, Simon & Garfunkle-esque maudlin sounding music. It was really fun. One thing that made me laugh was that one of Charlie Brown's words in the spelling bee was "fussbudget." This film also brought up all kinds of questions that I suppose I should ignore, because it's a cartoon and it's Peanuts:

-Why is Charlie Brown, an 8 year old, riding a bus alone to the city and staying in a hotel room alone?

-Why is Linus riding the bus (kind of alone) accompanied by a dog to the city to find Charlie Brown?

-Why aren't any of the Spelling Bee participants' parents in the audience? The audience is entirely children.

-How does Snoopy have such a long extension cord to reach all the way from his doghouse to the baseball field to play his record player?

-Snoopy's doghouse has electricity?

-How does Snoopy's back not hurt sleeping on the top of his doghouse?

Oh well, I guess it's just best to lose yourself in Peanuts' world full of whimsy and absent of all parental supervision.
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A realistic look at human mentality
PeachHamBeach5 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Yep, that's what I said: this cartoon feature-length film featuring the beloved "Peanuts" gang is, like the comics of Schulz, a very realistic and intimate look inside the human psyche, not just of Charlie Brown, but of the Van Pelt kids.

Charlie Brown believes he's a complete loser. Albeit, 6-8 year olds may not usually consciously form such a concise opinion of themselves, but, like the comic strip, Charlie Brown's voice is not only that of a perceptive adult, but of the inner child left behind. I don't know why people believe childhood is such a wonderful time. It SHOULD be. By rights, it ought to be our most precious, sacred, worry-free time, and adulthood ought to be the bummer. But in reality, childhood, when adults tower over you controlling your life and people your own size pick mercilessly at you for being the least bit different, is a time we look forward to leaving behind us, but unfortunately drag along with us for the rest of our days. I am now in my late 30s, and stressful career and all, health problems and all, I'll gladly move forward. I'd never revisit childhood, not for a million dollars!

Charlie's kite won't fly right, his baseball team is on a 99 game losing streak, and he can't even get his toy boat to sail in the bathtub. He feels miserable, unwanted and depressed. He seeks out the advice of wanna-be psychiatrist Lucy, all the while knowing that Miss Van Pelt is one of his biggest antagonists. She eagerly points out everything wrong with him and how hopelessly dumb and worthless he is, which is what abusive people do when they, deep down, hate themselves worse than they could ever hate you, but need to use you to build up their own meager self esteem. The one trait that spells doom for Charlie every time is his own admission that he believes himself a failure. That only makes Lucy and the other mean girls Violet and Patty, feel more powerful.

Desperately seeking self-worth, Charlie Brown decides to try out for the school spelling bee. First he wins against his home classmates, then he wins Spelling Champion of his school. Is this not a victory? Indeed it is, but instead of finding that self worth, and basking in the victory, Charlie dreads his next task, the National Elimination spelling bee in the big city. He berates himself for "getting himself into this mess," and not only makes himself sick with stress and worry, but exhausts himself studying all night before the competition, refusing even to take a nap, fearful that he will let the kids back home down if he doesn't use every minute for study. So it's no wonder he misspells a simple word like "beagle".

Second place, 1st runner up, the last to be eliminated. Do these things spell "loser"? You would think not, but naturally, poor lovable self-doubting Charlie Brown thinks its worse than if he had just been beaten earlier, or had never even made it out of his school contests. He took a risk, put himself out there, tried something out, and the results were not what he wanted. Now he feels like a failure as usual and is afraid to ever do anything again, because the humiliation he feels is unbearable.

The one "peanut" who seems to genuinely route for Charlie, without any selfish motives, is Linus. If Charlie would open his eyes, he would see that he has at least one true friend in the world, someone who believes in him and doesn't think of him as a total loser just because he didn't win first in the national bee. He even gave Charlie his beloved security blanket for good luck. Somehow, he coaxes Charlie Brown out of his shell of fear and humiliation.

The ending is realistic. Things seem not to have changed much since the spelling bee. Snoopy and Linus are still Charlie's closest frients, Lucy is the same ol' conniving meanie yanking the ball away just as Charlie is about to kick it.

But Charlie IS changed. Even though he didn't win first place, he has returned home someone new, someone who takes risks and tries new things and works very hard toward a goal, and even though you'll never hear Lucy and the mean girls admit it, this is his victory.

Deep down, at some point in our lives, "we're all a boy named Charlie Brown."
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Charming characters, unique animation, and a great lesson...
dwpollar31 October 2004
1st watched 10/30/2004 - 7 out of 10(Dir-Bill Melendez): Charming characters, unique animation, and a great lesson. Excellent slow-paced introduction to each character in this Peanuts cartoon with all the trademark character traits being brought out one at a time. Some very psychedelic-type animation matches the era(the late 60's) during a musical piece by Schroeder as well as a well-done rendition of the national anthem initiating the baseball season for the Peanuts gang. The only down-points are some of the songs, especially a small ditty called "Failure Face" sung by the girls to Charlie. The story follows the down-in-his-luck hero Charlie and his attempts to do something as a winner by entering a spelling bee contest for his school. The lesson here, which you have to wait till the end to see, is that as long as you keep trying there will be little victories in life and that you can't change others but you can do the best for you and that's whats important. Schulz doesn't try to color-coat life, he shows that it is as it is which is another appealing trait. Aside from these deep meanings embedded, this is also a very funny and light-hearted film(with many great moments from Snoopy, of course, for comic relief) that I consider a classic since these characters very rarely made it to the big screen and this effort is done very well.
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Peanuts in a movie
Petey-105 January 2001
A Boy Named Charlie Brown from 1969 was the first Peanuts movie in a big screen.In the movie Charlie goes to spelling bee.You can also see the other great Peanuts characters like Snoopy in the movie.The characters that the master Charles M. Schulz created about 50 years ago.Sadly the master died last February at the age of 77.If you think Peanuts are only for kids you're wrong.i'm 19 and I found this movie very entertaining.Everybody can watch Peanuts and enjoy.You don't have to be afraid of getting bored.A Boy Named Charlie Brown keeps you interested through the movie.I could end my comment with these two great words:good grief.
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The best of the Peanuts movies, a very honest feature (major spoilers)
Jeremy Bristol27 June 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Basically, A Boy Named Charlie Brown falls into the genre of competition movies for children, such as Little Giants, The Mighty Ducks, and Angels in the Outfield. However, this movie is by far the most honest and felt movie to come out of the genre. Unlike all the others, which show haggard, underdog teams of non-atheletes defeating more skilled teams (most of whom are mean or cheaters), to supposedly prove that winning isn't everything and just have fun and heart (or worse, in the case of Angels, that God decides who wins in sporting events), Charlie Brown is simply involved in a spelling bee in which he, though an underdog according to his friends (they call him Failure Face), amazingly makes it to the final round in the national bee because he keeps getting words that have to do with "failure," something he is quite accustomed to! The ending is more honest than any victory celebration could have been, and leaves the viewer with a truer sense of the overall importance of these competitions.

The only real problem I have with the movie (which has some stiking animated sequences that reminded me of the Woodstock movie (the festival, not the bird)) is that the songs are pretty bad, which makes me ever so grateful that the filmmakers hired the Mary Poppins songwriters for Snoopy Come Home.
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What a film, Charlie Brown
knoxvillian30 October 2002
This has got to be one of the most overlooked films in talking about classic stories. The storytelling of this film is wonderful, with a surprisingly insightful point for an animated film.

This film follows the fortunes of our title character, Charlie Brown, as he finally proves his worth by making it to the National Eliminations Spelling Bee, Second Grade. Along the way, we see his failures in baseball, his troubles with an overly imaginative dog, and his entanglements with his closest friends. All of the classic scenes from the comic are there as well. With only this mix of characters and the superb storytelling, the film would have been a classic.

But wait, there's more! The story is set against a beautiful backdrop of color and inventive imagery (Schroeder's concert of the "Adagio Cantabile" by Beethoven or the Snoopy's ice-skating interlude come to mind). In addition to all of this, there is the always transcendent score by Vincent Guaraldi as well as several fun songs sung by the characters and a title song by Rod McKuen that makes me wonder why one is unable to find a soundtrack to this movie anywhere.

If you haven't seen this movie, then I highly recommend that you do. Perhaps you'll see why this is easily on of the very best animated films out there.
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Blockhead. B-L-O-C-K-H-E-AD.
Hey_Sweden7 April 2018
The beloved Peanuts characters created by Charles M. Schulz make a very endearing feature film debut here. The story has Charlie Brown feeling more despondent than ever due to the fact that his destiny seems to be failing at everything. This isn't helped by the fact that Lucy has actually created a slide show detailing every one of his supposed faults! However, hope is generated when Charlie Brown decides to try out competitive spelling, and has success right off the bat. (In an appropriate touch, this is because some of the first words that he gets are tailored to his personality, like "insecure".) He even goes to compete in the National Spelling Bee.

There's some material here that could be seen as padding, but overall it's an effective means of stretching out a Peanuts story to a feature length of approximately an hour and a half. The animation is slick and there is a wealth of interesting visuals. Rod McKuens' handful of songs are admittedly pretty silly, but they're not long enough or frequent enough to become a true detriment.

The verbal jokes and visual gags are just as funny as they've ever been, and the characters are all well defined in their classic way. Snoopy, as usual, is the biggest cut-up. One example of this: Linus handed over his precious security blanket to Charlie Brown to serve as a good luck charm, and suffers enough withdrawals to seek out Charlie Brown and demand the blanket back. Then, every time Linus keels over, Snoopy fills a glass of water, and you think it's for Linus, but he ends up drinking it himself.

As a bonus, "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" features a catchy way of listing various spelling rules; watching this wouldn't be a bad way for kids to learn some of them! Poor Charlie Brown ends up so stressed out and weary that he automatically spells words that he speaks or are spoken to him.

You do feel bad for Charlie, but in the end, you can always leave it to Linus to put everything into perspective for him and the audience.

Many genuine laughs, a solid story, some real heart, and a typically excellent jazz soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi (including some variations on the standard "Linus and Lucy") help to make this a winner.

Eight out of 10.
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The world didn't come to an end.
Sylviastel30 November 2008
As a child, I couldn't get enough of the holiday Charlie Brown specials or movies which were occasionally shown on television. Until today, I caught the full film version of the first film and I liked it but it could have been better. The music scenes were a bit off the track of the film about Charlie Brown competing in the national spelling bee. Of course, the rest of Peanuts gang are there to support or criticize him. He wins the school spelling bee and goes on to the national championships with Linus' blanket. When Linus can't live without his blanket, he and Snoopy go to the championships to retrieve it. By then, Charlie is exhausted and overwhelmed by the spelling bee. Despite the technology of the time, Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang always entertain and never come up short. This film is really for those who love the Peanuts gang especially Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Peppermint Patty, and others.
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Charlie Brown a Winner
shelbythuylinh14 December 2021
Warning: Spoilers
Really Lucy and her bratty friends calling Charlie a "Failure Face" there. But despite not at all flying a kite or that over in the playing baseball and losing, he really really does a surprise in volunteering for a spelling bee.

He wins surprisingly and the taunts turn into cheers as he is invited for the national spelling bee. And how they must prepare him for his presentation and in the spelling to show he is a winner.

But of course being the late Charles Schultz there he can't let Charlie do that but that is why we love him as he is the underdog in life there. Like we all are.
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For the same reasons people love or hate this movie, this is everything Charlie Brown and Peanuts in a feature film
IonicBreezeMachine10 February 2021
Charlie Brown is a depressed little boy whose actions are constantly met with failure, humiliation, or some combination of both. However when Charlie Brown wins a spelling bee he finds himself representing his school at a national level with an opportunity for great success....or possibly even greater failure.

Released in 1969 Peanuts had already made themselves quite well known with their number of prime time TV specials usually themed around various holidays. A Boy Named Charlie Brown marks the first of four feature length films from the same team and not only was it a success upon release breaking records at Radio City Music Hall (only the third animated feature to be screened at the venue) but broke Disney's near monopoly on animated features. The movie for all intents and purposes is Charlie Brown through and through.

The movie is less of an overarching narrative and more of a character piece just following Charlie Brown through his various activities. Be it trying to fly a kite, playing baseball, or at one point getting out the front door of his home, Charlie Brown finds himself either in abject failure or humiliating mishaps that often wear down on him. The movie features many of the familiar Peanuts cast in varying degrees of importance. Linus is still the fragile know-it-all who has withdrawls when he's seperated too long from his blanket, Lucy is still the deviant sadist who revels in kicking Charlie Brown when he's down, and Snoopy is still just his usually weird self. It's a very slow paced film that takes its time moving from one segment to the next. In many ways it's like watching a (slightly) real life, albeit a very depressing one.

While the movie does have a purposefully slow plot with the Spelling Bee point not introduced until a little under halfway through, there's clear usage of padding in several musical interludes. Some such as Schroeder playing his piano only for the imagery to drift away and reveal painted work of cathedrals and European cities, the Star Spangled Banner playing with abstract shapes of Red, White and Blue, and a lengthy sequence where Snoppy skates and imagines himself playing Hockey in front of Rockerfeller center go on a smidge too long and are clearly there just to extend the running time, but others such as the opening title song "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" or "Failure Face" a musical insult directed at Charlie Brown sung by Patty, Violet, and Lucy fit a bit better.

A Boy Named Charlie Brown is a faithful adaptation of the beloved characters as well as the strip from which they came. It keeps the tone fitting with the established canon and while it's story is simple it deals unapologetically with ideas of putting your all into something only for that to not necessarily pay off in the end. The same reasons that people like this movie will be the same reasons people don't like it. And for all intents and purposes that's more or less how the whole of the Peanuts franchise should be approached.
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far better than the other Charlie Brown movies and better than most of the TV specials
planktonrules12 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
As a kid, I loved this film when I saw it in the theater and when I saw it years later as an adult, I found it still had a lot to offer. You can't say that about MOST kids' movies! Charlie Brown is, as usual, an outcast and nothing goes right for him when the movie begins. However, when he decides to enter a spelling bee and he wins, he is thrilled because he finally is good at something and the other kids treat him better. He doesn't realize that because he won he will be going to the state competition, and when he does, he's a nervous wreck. However, in the state competition, he comes in second. The kids reward this performance by once again demeaning him by calling him a block-head! Despite the very simple outline I gave above, the film actually has a lot more depth and character development. Plus, being the funky 1960s, the visuals at times are pretty indicative of the era (i.e., splashy and loud).

I know he never would have been allowed to do it, but when Charlie Brown came home after having come in second, I really wanted to see him administer a well-deserved butt-kicking to Lucy and the other nasty kids!
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Good grief!
Atreyu_II14 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"A Boy Named Charlie Brown" is the first of 4 Peanuts specials and also the first full-length Peanuts movie. It is the movie that made Charlie Brown and his friends movie stars.

As the movie's title suggests, it is about a boy named Charlie Brown, the main character of Peanuts. Here, more than in any other movie or episode, Charlie Brown shows his emotions at the maximum: when he's shy or nervous, when he's sad and depressed, when he's angry, when he's hopeful or desperate, when he feels that nothing seems to be going well in his life and so on...

Charlie Brown is a lovable loser. He's the kind of character that wins our hearts with his losing ways. And yet, he is also a funny little guy.

This movie has some of the best known scenes of Charlie Brown's lack of luck: his failures on the baseball games and the infamous trick that Lucy always does to Charlie Brown whenever he is about to kick the football - she pulls it away!

Charlie Brown even asks for help on Lucy's Psychiatry Booth in this film. She claims that her method is "unique" and what does she do? With a slide projector and a screen, she shows all of Charlie's faults, which only makes poor Charlie feel more miserable than ever.

An interesting and distinguish detail about this film is that Charlie Brown often spells the letters of the words he is saying, something called «spelling bee». The spelling bee is going fine (even the most difficult words) until he has to spell the word "Beagle" (Snoopy's breed). Unfortunately, he misspells it as "B-E-A-G-E-L". I believe it is because of the nerves - after all, it was an easy word for him to say. But the screams given by him and the whole gang are hilarious, as well as Charlie's face when he realizes he misspelled the word.

Funnily, Linus borrows Charlie Brown his blue blanket to wish him good luck. Not much later, Linus feels miserable without his blue blanket. He just keeps passing out! I guess one could say «What would Linus be without his blanket?». A funny scene related to this is that, when Charlie Brown is shining his shoes, Linus stares in shock because the cloth he's using is Linus' blanket - Linus yells "Arrrgh!" and quickly grabs it and holds it. The blanket even seems to win a life of its own.

The kite sequence, for some reason, reminds me about the kite scenes in "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" and "Mary Poppins", especially the one in the first movie I mentioned because they both deal with a kite's failed attempt.

Surprisingly, there are 2 characters that do not appear in this movie: Woodstock and Marcie. Peppermint Patty (aka «Sir») practically doesn't appear either, but if you look carefully, you'll clearly see her appearing twice, although very briefly.

The movie's major downside is, in my opinion, some bizarre and strange sequences that I hardly can explain. All I can say is that they remind me about the segment "Night on Bald Mountain" from Walt Disney's "Fantasia", which is my least favorite part of that great Disney classic. But at least those scenes have the touch of Beethoven's classical music as background. As for the rest of the soundtrack, it is nothing special, but I like the songs "I before E Except after C" and "A Boy Named Charlie Brown".

The artwork here is quite simple, typically Peanuts. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a critic, just an honest evaluation. However, the movies "Race for your life, Charlie Brown" and "Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown" have far superior artwork. Nevertheless, "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" is an okay movie, even if not as unique or distinguish as "Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown".
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not only the best of the animated specials, but I would even go as far as to say it's the best animated film ever made
TheUnknown837-122 August 2009
In 1969, Charles M. Schulz's beloved comic strip "Peanuts" had become so popular, as had the first six half-hour animated television specials based on it, that Schulz and animation director Bill Melendez decided it was time to bring Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Snoopy, and all of their pals to the big screen for their first feature-length movie. The result was the most delightful and wonderful masterpiece "A Boy Named Charlie Brown", which to my mind is not only the best animated special based on Schulz's comic strip, but maybe even the best animated film ever made.

The story borrows elements from some of the strips Schulz had previously published, but also introduces a fresh new storyline. Charlie Brown, the classic American un-success story, is still struggling to prove himself to the world, or at least to himself. Yet despite his greatest efforts, he cannot fly a kite, kick a football, or win a baseball game and is deemed a failure by his peers. But when Charlie Brown discovers he has a talent in a spelling bee and soon becomes selected to take place in a national contest, he finds his peers not only supporting him, but depending on him to succeed and he warily wanders in, determined to win for the first time in his life.

I guess the most powerful element for me about "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" is that it contained the greatest message in Schulz's strip and the truest emotion in every young child in America or the world for that matter: the strive to prove oneself and facing the daunting possibility that one might not succeed and wondering how the world will respond to a failure.

But Schulz, who wrote the screenplay, wisely decides not to let it become an all-out serious drama, for that would lose the spirit of his classic tale, which would run for nearly half a decade. Incorporated into the story is Schulz's more than imaginative and effective sense of humor. Also incorporated is all of the classic elements of "Peanuts." All of the unforgettable characters and traits that people today, almost ten years after Schulz's death, are still in love with. Charlie Brown's inability to kick a football from under Lucy's hand, his failure to fly a kite or win a baseball game, Linus' dependence on his security blanket, Lucy's lovable fuss-budget attitude, her "psychiatric treatment" for poor Charlie Brown and her unrequited love for Schroeder, Sally's for Linus, and of course, the ubiquitous and enigmatic beagle Snoopy performing one awesome performance after another amongst the characters. Although the film is telling a new story for the characters, it does not depart from the never-ending subplots that we love and cherish. Like in the comics, all adults are hidden from view. Their voices are dubbed by a trombone being played with a hand in the horn. The story is about the children, so it focuses on the children.

What's more, for one of the few times, the voice casting is absolutely perfect! Sometimes in previous and following specials, Lucy's voice would be too strident, Linus' would be lacking a lisp, Charlie Brown's would be too high, and so forth. But here, every character, every single character, is matched to the child actor perfectly! Peter Robbins, who voiced Charlie Brown in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965) takes the role for the last time and…well, who else could have done it so well? One of the few complaints about the "Peanuts" specials is that the animation is primitive. And yes, it is. Everything is hand-drawn frame-by-frame save for a few rotoscoping shots such as during one of Snoopy's whimsical adventures. But the animation, while primitive, is more than passable, absolutely convincing, it matches Schulz's drawing style so well, and it works. But like with all movies, the strength is not in the look of the picture, but in the story. And "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" scores with both. Every now and again, we see a movie that is so delightful and so wonderful that it leaves a good feeling in your soul that never goes away. And for me at least, "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" was one of them and one of the strongest yet. We follow Charlie Brown so well, because a lot of us can personally identify with him, so that when he's in the national spelling bee, we are rooting for him all the way, hoping that once—just once—he can win and not be a failure in the eyes of his friends.

This is the best of the animated "Peanuts" specials. And again, I would even go as far as to say it's the most heart-warming and delightful animated film I've ever seen in my time. And remember, I've seen quite a few.
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A boy named Charlie Brown.
ofpsmith29 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Charlie Brown (Peter Robbins) as we all know is the caricature of an average person. Charlie always seems to be down on his luck. His only friend is the philosophical Linus Van Pelt (Glenn Glinger). To make matters worse he is constantly tormented by Linus's mean and rather dumb sister Lucy Van Pelt (Pamelyn Ferdin). To show Lucy and her gang of equally mean friends that he is worth something, good old Charlie gets involved in a spelling bee. But when it turns out that he does so well that he moves on to a bigger competition everything goes downhill for Charlie. What I love about this movie is pretty much everything. The scene when Charlie is at the contest sweating because of intense pressure from Lucy is great. And all scenes with Charlie's famous dog Snoopy are of course fantastic. The child actors all put on terrific performances especially Ferdin. I highly recommend this.
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Spell It, Charlie Brown!
Rindiana13 December 2010
You don't need first-class Disney animation to produce a charmer. The Peanuts' comics' philosophical underpinnings and intelligent and witty humour is brought to the silver screen full and intact. Never before or after has a bunch of kids proved to be that thought-provoking.

Yes, the pace may be a tad too slow and the animation rough around the edges, but Schulz' lovable little grown-ups with their all too well-known characteristics are sufficient compensation.

And if the pic threatens to become too talky, there's always Snoopy's shenanigans to save the day.

7 out of 10 security blanket cold turkeys
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Good grief, a good charlie brown show
richspenc8 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I really like the peanuts movies. There was one summer when I was a kid, I think it was 1984, they kept showing "A boy named charlie brown" and "snoopy come home" over and over again. And I loved em. I couldn't stop watching them. I like how in "a boy named charlie brown", there is that real down to earth feel combined with humor and good fun. Charlie brown gets constantly teased by Lucy and her friends for his lack of achievements. They even taunted poor Chuck with the song " failure face". That's when charlie enters the spelling bees. He wins the class and local bees, but then he goes to NY for the national bee. The ride along the way is such innocence and good fun. The antics of Snoopy. Linus trying to give up the blanket. I've also always liked the imaginative sequences in these films. Schroeder plays Beethoven (one of his sonatas, I forget which movement) on his little piano and they then show him (Shroeder's imagination) playing on a large concert grand piano with candles and classic decor surrounding him, him looking so small againced it all. This is all part of Schroeder's dreams of someday becoming a concert pianist. And Linus's dreams of never needing the ol blanket again, and Charlie's dreams of being successful. That's another thing that I like about the peanuts, each character's dreams and wishes. Then we see Snoopy ice skating to that one famous piano tune ( I forget the name of it but I've also heard them play that same song on the local forecast segment on the weather channel). Then we see Charlie struggling to spell those last words right at the national spelling bee. Lucy and friends are watching the bee on TV back home. There's the famous peanuts whah-whah voice conducting the bee, the same voice that's always the teacher's voice at school. Spoiler alert: Charlie brown does not win the spelling bee. That's another good thing about this film, instead of the normal Hollywood ending of most movies where the main character always wins, here we get a scoop of real life. In real life, you don't always come in first place.
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