A Boy Named Charlie Brown

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
A Boy Named Charlie Brown Movie Poster Image
Classic Peanuts film is as charming and relevant as ever.
  • G
  • 1969
  • 85 minutes

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Makes diverse genres of music accessible to kids (i.e., classical, jazz). Introduces the concept of a spelling bee.

Positive Messages

Stresses the importance of trying hard and preparation, using one's imagination, enjoying life's simple pleasures, the value of friends, accepting failure, and moving forward.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Classic characters exhibit a variety of positive attributes: loyalty, wisdom, perseverance, resourcefulness, generosity, appreciation of simple pleasures. They cope with loss and loneliness, failure, and disappointment. The iconic Lucy Van Pelt is a bossy, irrepressible fussbudget who delights in tormenting Charlie Brown; she's sometimes redeemable, sometimes not. A sprinkling of ethnic diversity.

Violence & Scariness

A few cartoon pratfalls: falls, someone gets hit by a ball, Snoopy engages in imaginary air battles. 

Sexy Stuff
Language

Lucy torments Charlie Brown with insults, and Charlie Brown berates himself: "blockhead," "failure," "stupid," "useless."

Consumerism

Part of the Peanuts brand created by Charles Schulz, which markets and licenses a vast array of products: movies, TV shows, clothing, toys, greeting cards, and books.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Boy Named Charlie Brown, the first full-length Peanuts feature film, is released here on Blu-ray (2016). Nearly 50 years after its release, the movie has not lost a bit of its charm, humor, thoughtfulness, or relatability. Charlie Brown, tortured by his own inadequacies and Lucy Van Pelt's constant reminder of his failures, hopes to finally succeed at something: a spelling bee! His odyssey from his own classroom to the national finals in New York City, with Linus and Snoopy nearly always at his side, is a study in conflicting emotions: dread vs bravery, giving up vs. determination, and winning vs. losing. Along the way, standout music, brief interludes with other Peanuts stalwarts, and Charles M. Schulz's cartoon magic and insightful messages all contribute to the humor and wisdom directed at kids. Certain insults, such as Lucy Van Pelt staples such as "blockhead" and "failure," may bother some parents but can be used to open discussion about disrespect and/or bullying. The few pratfalls (falls, baseball mishaps) are quickly resolved, with no injuries. Fine for all ages.

User Reviews

Adult Written byAlG. July 3, 2018

Classy Classic

Very nice lesson about courage, applying yourself, and not being afraid of failure.
Kid, 12 years old April 27, 2018

Good movie

The only part I don't like is the creepy visuals in one scene, so I had to skip it. (I'm 12 and I still think its scary.) It could be disturbing for s... Continue reading

What's the story?

Poor Charlie Brown (voiced by Peter Robbins)! He just can't get anything right in A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN. His kite won't fly; his baseball team is losing again; he keeps falling for Lucy's (Pamelyn Ferdin) never-ending trick with the football. He's looking for one thing -- just one thing -- at which he can succeed. Linus (Glenn Gilger) is there for him, as usual, this time suggesting that maybe, just maybe, he can win his class's upcoming spelling bee. Charlie Brown doubts himself, but at least he's willing to try. And try, he does. And prepare, he does. His friends, particularly Lucy, are amazed by his early success. First his classroom is impressed, then the entire school. He does so well that he's on his way to the National Spelling Bee in NYC. Charlie Brown's odyssey is not without mishaps, but with Linus and Snoopy rooting him on in person, and the entire Peanuts gang watching from home, Charlie works hard and does his very best. Note: Charlie Brown's story is intercut with charming personal vignettes starring his buddies (spectacular skating with Snoopy; Linus loses his blanket; a musical interlude with Schroeder, Lucy, and Ludwig von Beethoven).

Is it any good?

If per the Peanuts' adage "Happiness Is a Warm Blanket," then this film is a sunny day with good friends in a cozy meadow. From the wonderful artistry of Charles M. Schulz's writing and drawings (the animation for Beethoven's Symphony #6, "Pathetique," is sensational), to the comforting recognition kids feel when they see their own ups and downs dramatized, to the well-defined distinctive personalities of all the central characters, Bill Melendez and his team made their very first Peanuts feature film both engaging and timeless. Almost 50 years later, it's easy to forgive the one misstep -- several corny original songs, written and sung by Rod McKuen. The central story in A Boy Named Charlie Brown, combined with the many integrated scenes in which other members of the Peanuts tribe shine, proves that even in their earliest effort this "gang" was expert at bringing what was originally a comic strip to life. Highly recommended for all ages, even grown-ups. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how A Boy Named Charlie Brown is a wonderful example of "timelessness" in a work of art. How are the emotions, concerns, situations, and relationships as relevant today as they were in 1969? Can you give some specific examples?

  • Talk about the music in A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Can you identify the variety of musical genres included here? Have fun watching the movie again and note which sequences used classical sounds and which used jazz riffs. And how does the standard Peanuts theme music affect you? Is the familiarity comforting? Does it summon pleasurable feelings?

  • How does Charlie Brown cope with sadness and disappointment? What do you think Charles M. Schulz meant when he said, "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia"?

  • How do the characters in A Boy Named Charlie Brown demonstrate perseverance? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love classic cartoons

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate