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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown focuses on the disappointments and frustrations of Valentine's Day with sophistication and humor. Even though the Peanuts characters pine after unrequited love, the action and dialogue is handled with such a deft touch that it feels uplifting. And the humor is universal enough to entertain the youngest viewers and parents alike. There's less use of insult language in this one than in many other classic Peanuts specials.
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What's the story?
In BE MY VALENTINE, CHARLIE BROWN, cartoonist Charles Schulz brings the Peanuts gang face to face with one of the most fraught American traditions: the school Valentine's Day card exchange. Characters navigate crushes on unavailable teachers, the perils of creating homemade valentines, and the echo of empty mailboxes, along with the feelings that go along with those disappointments. While Charlie Brown (voiced by Duncan Watson) is the most pitiable character, his optimism never leaves him. And the ongoing high jinks of his dog Snoopy will have viewers of every age laughing.
Is it any good?
Schulz's cartoon genius came from using humor to express universal experiences, and this special is a perfect example. Kids will probably identify with the latent fear of not receiving any valentines, and with the pressure of finding just the right card for that special person -- whether it's a classmate, sibling, or teacher. It's a relief to see characters apologizing to Charlie Brown after snubbing him, even if their motives are a bit selfish.
Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown uses visual humor with the dialog to achieve some truly funny moments, like when Sally (Lynn Mortenson) finds an entire Shakespearean sonnet written on a candy heart, or when Linus (Stephen Shea) hurls away candy after candy in frustration, not knowing that Snoopy and Woodstock are gleefully disposing of the spoils. A 2008 edition includes two TV specials -- "It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown" and "You're in Love, Charlie Brown" -- that explore the theme of unrequited love even further, as well as a documentary-style featurette about Schulz's work.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Charlie Brown's disappointment at not getting any Valentines in Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown. Did the action of the other characters on the next day make up for ignoring him before?
In school Valentine's Day exchanges, do you think it's fair to have to give a card to every classmate, or should you be able to choose your recipients?
What do you think about Linus' statement that the money you spend on your Valentine shows how much you care about them?
- In theaters: January 28, 1975
- On DVD or streaming: January 15, 2008
- Cast: Duncan Watson, Lynn Mortenson, Stephen Shea
- Director: Phil Roman
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Holidays
- Character strengths: Compassion, Empathy
- Run time: 25 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- MPAA explanation: Not Rated
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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