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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that He's a Bully, Charlie Brown, first broadcast on television in 2006, is being released on DVD in 2015 as a direct result of increased awareness about the impact of bullying on today's kids. The 22-minute story is simple: One egotistical, mean-spirited boy (voiced by a young Taylor Lautner, heartthrob from the Twilight movies) takes advantage of younger or more trusting kids who don't recognize when they're being bamboozled. Charlie Brown and company find a gentle but effective way to turn things around. There are some mild cartoon falls, bumps, and kicks as well as some name-calling from a bully. The DVD also contains two other 22-minute offerings.
What's the story?
With varying degrees of enthusiasm, it's off to two weeks of summer camp for the Peanuts gang in HE'S A BULLY, CHARLIE BROWN. Only a very disheartened Peppermint Patty has to stay back and go to summer school. When Charlie (voiced by Spencer Robert Scott) and company arrive at camp, they're immediately greeted by Joe Agate, who at first appears to be a gung-ho, friendly fellow. Rerun, who has discovered a treasure of his grandfather's old marbles in the attic and brought them with him, immediately is intrigued by Joe's excellence at playing marbles. The very next day, Rerun is delighted that Joe is going to show him how to play. But to the little boy's shock and dismay, after their very first match, Joe reveals that he's been playing "for keeps" and all of Rerun's prize marbles now belong to him. What's more, Joe has been teasing Snoopy and upsetting others by calling them names. It's up to Charlie Brown (who doesn't know a thing about marbles) to get Rerun's cherished marbles back and stand up to the bully, and it's up to Snoopy (who knows a great deal about the game) to help him. As preparations take place, no one is surprised when Patty shows up to join the fun. Now all the gang's together rooting Charlie on in his quest to teach Joe an important lesson. Two other 22-minute offerings make up this installment from the Peanuts archives. "It's a Short Summer, Charlie Brown" from 1969, finds the gang having fun and lots of competition at summer camp. "Snoopy: Team Manager" (1983) is made up of four short episodes focusing on Lucy's garden; Rerun's trepidations as he rides along on his mom's bike; Linus, his grandma, and his special blanket; and Snoopy managing the friends' baseball team.
Is it any good?
This Peanuts entry tackles a serious problem such as bullying in a simple way so that even the youngest kids can recognize and consider bullying behavior. When Rerun finds himself the victim of an arrogant and greedy kid named Joe Agate (introduced in the 1995 Charles Schulz comic strips), Charlie Brown is able to become his best self as he tries to rectify the situation. He's a Bully, Charlie Brown is a solid introduction to mean kid behavior, one that doesn't trigger alarms or fears but quietly and constructively shows the effects and allows kids to deal with it themselves. The other two episodes on this release are like most Peanuts stories: warm, relatable, and funny.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about bullying among even little kids. How is bullying portrayed in He's a Bully, Charlie Brown? Why is it important to deal with young kids' bullying behavior before it becomes irreversible? What are some effective ways to change such behavior? What should you do if you are bullied or see someone being bullied?
Why was it easier for Charlie Brown to stand up to Joe and protect Rerun than it might have been if he was simply defending himself? Do you think kids can be braver when they're looking out for others? How can this fact make standing up to bullies a "team" effort?
What lessons do you think Joe took away from his encounter with Charlie Brown?
How does this story compare to other Peanuts specials you've seen? Why do you think this 2006 special is being rereleased?
- In theaters: November 20, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: October 6, 2015
- Cast: Spencer Robert Scott, Taylor Lautner, Rory Thost
- Directors: Bill Melendez, Larry Leichliter
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character strengths: Compassion, Empathy
- Run time: 60 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
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