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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the 2016 rerelease of Charlie Brown's All Stars! celebrates the 50th anniversary of Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts television special, which first aired on June 8, 1966. With its classic humor and its relevant messages about making difficult choices and setting priorities, this 25-minute film will still delight and have meaning for young audiences. The story turns on the ups and downs of Charlie Brown's baseball team, made up of five boys, three girls, and a dog. The remainder of the DVD, approximately 50 minutes in length, is a collection of individual vignettes starring members of the Peanuts gang and covers a variety of topics and experiences, which aired as A Charlie Brown Celebration on May 24, 1982. All are kid-friendly, character-rich, and very funny and have lost none of their relevance. Some of the traditional insults fly Charlie Brown's way (i.e., "blockhead," "stupid"). Cartoon action is confined to a few falls, bonks on the head, and some "daring" rescues by chief rescuer Snoopy. One cartoon focuses on Charlie Brown in a hospital stay and may be briefly worrisome to very young or super-sensitive kids, but our hero is never in any danger and he fully recovers. Appropriate for all ages.
What's the story?
CHARLIE BROWN'S ALL STARS! finds Charlie Brown (voiced by Peter Robbins) in a very tight spot. After his team loses a game by a score of 123 to 1, his players are mad, threatening to quit, and very insulting. But things immediately begin to look up: Mr. Hennessy, owner of the hardware store, offers not only to sponsor Charlie Brown's team in a real league, but he'll also supply them with their own uniforms. Everyone is ecstatic and back in the fold, especially Charlie Brown. That is, until he finds out that there are conditions attached to Mr. Hennessy's offer -- conditions that may be worse than losing 123 to 1. What's a team manager to do? Thrill most of the members of the team by breaking the hearts of others? The remainder of this DVD is A Charlie Brown Celebration, a collection of vignettes of varying lengths, specifically produced for this TV special that aired in 1982, 16 years after Charlie Brown's All Stars. All the members of the Peanuts gang have moments that involve school, camp, relationships, a bit of romance, and the wisdom of Charles M. Schulz.
Is it any good?
Charming, resonant, funny, and with Charles Schulz' unique wisdom, this early collection treats fans old and new to the timelessness of the characters and their relatable experiences and feelings. The central story, Charlie Brown's All Stars!, offers a multidimensional look at the hapless hero, with a sensibility regarding discrimination against girls that was rare for the 1960s and a resolution that is enduring and thought-provoking. The jazzy score by Vince Guaraldi, which works wonderfully well in tandem with the Peanuts theme music, deserves a special shout-out. This 50th-anniversary video is a tribute to an innovative, talented man and remains a gift for kids of all ages.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Charlie Brown turned down Mr. Hennessey's offer of a real baseball league and uniforms in Charlie Brown's All Stars! What was he willing to give up for his friends? Why did he choose not to tell them the whole story? Do you agree with his choices?
These movies were made long before computers, cell phones, and texting were part of daily life. How might technology change these stories and these relationships? Do you see advantages to putting away screens and keyboards? How can kids balance technology with person-to-person interaction? Try to imagine what Charles M. Schulz might have thought about today's all-consuming interest in electronics.
Some of the kids wanted to quit the team because they lost every game. Is quitting a good problem-solving technique? Why, or why not? In this case, what could they have done to make the situation better?
- On DVD or streaming: October 4, 2016
- Cast: Peter Robbins, Sally Dryer, Christopher Shea
- Director: Bill Melendez
- Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Sports and martial arts, Brothers and sisters, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
- Character strengths: Empathy, Integrity
- Run time: 74 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
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