Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

‘Tis the season to be enjoying appropriately seasonal Christmas movies at the Savage household. Unfortunately, I am a sentimental enough person that pretty much every Christmas movie I’ve watched since the beginning of the month (which pretty much constitutes Gremlins and The Nightmare Before Christmas, though expectations are high that I’ll see many more) has warranted a rather glowing four star review. Clearly for this blog’s sake, what was needed was for me to start reviewing movies for other holidays, and what better alternative holiday to celebrate here than that of Halloween and the Great Pumpkin?

Anyway, while this surprisingly wasn’t my favorite Charlie Brown special (that would of course be Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown, which curiously has yet to get a DVD release), it’s a solid entry by director Bill Melendez, who appears to have directed all of the Peanuts specials, or at least all the ones I’m familiar with. The film functions as a series of intercut vignettes, one following Snoopy and his fantasies as a World War I flying ace, one following Linus and Lucy as they wait in the pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin to arrive, and one following virtually everyone else as they go trick or treating, mostly dressed as crappy little ghosts. Much like the comic strip it’s based off of, it’s a curious combination of very basic (some would say awful) artwork and surprisingly literate writing, leaving us with a group of children that speak rather like adults, philosophizing about their beliefs and fears in ways that would likely prompt any rational person to kill such children they heard talking like that. It’s a very thin line between the Peanuts gang and Village of the Damned, people.

As it’s not very long (it clocks in at a svelte 25 minutes), it doesn’t go to any great depth, providing a nice, pleasant TV special without requiring us to really ponder, say, what it means to be so devoted as to spend an entire evening in a pumpkin patch for your savior to appear, and deciding to spend the next Halloween in a different patch since he didn’t show up this time. Instead, it‘s much better to focus on things like the trick or treating adventures; I don’t know what it says about me as a person, but I am always happy to watch as Charlie Brown stumbles through his life so poorly, getting rocks at every house instead of candy, that my own screwed up life seems that much better by comparison.

And really, when it comes to it, isn’t that what the holidays are really meant for? Making yourself feel better by hating on others? Just like you can all hate on whoever uploaded the terrible video embedded below. Forrest Gump could have done a better job than that.

Rating: ***

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