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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown, written by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz in the early 1970s, highlights the perils and pitfalls of the election cycle that continue to be relevant. It's a mostly cynical view of politics, wrapped in the dependable humor and entertaining characters that make up the Peanuts gang. Neither pedantic nor silly, the DVD is a good choice for young kids interested in politics. The second feature is a 2006 short called He's a Bully, Charlie Brown. In this one, a mean kid misleads other kids into losing their marble collections, and he trips Snoopy and shoves him to the ground. When Charlie Brown sees what's happening, he behaves in ways that might be seen as out of character: He learns from a certain beagle named "Joe Cool" all about winning at marbles, stands up to the bully, and wins. Both features contain name-calling.
What's the story?
Written by Charles Schulz in the year George McGovern was challenging incumbent Richard M. Nixon for the presidency, YOU'RE NOT ELECTED, CHARLIE BROWN shows that some things in politics never change. Despite the title, it's actually Linus van Pelt (voiced by Stephen Shea) who is running for student president at Birchwood School, with his pushy sister Lucy (Robin Kohn) as campaign manager. Between Lucy's intimidation techniques and some very funny help from Snoopy and Woodstock (in his first animated role), Linus has a chance to win the election. But even if he does, can he deliver on the promises he makes in his stump speech? The 2008 remastered edition also includes He's a Bully, Charlie Brown, a 2006 TV special that features Charlie Brown and the gang at summer camp. Joe Agate (Taylor Lautner), the camp bully, steals Reruns' (Jimmy Bennett) prize marble collection, and it's up to Charlie Brown to win it back.
Is it any good?
Despite a mostly satirical tone, Schulz includes one moment of real integrity in the plot, and that is the one that lingers in the viewer's mind. As is true with most of Schulz's work, the DVD works on two levels: One is pure humor; even kids who don't care about the intricacies of polling and voting will be entertained by Snoopy in his "Joe Cool" persona or by Schroeder (Brian Kazanjian) turning a nominating speech into an ode to his hero Beethoven. But for older kids, You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown represents a chance to talk about whether there is any honesty left in the political process.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Lucy's polling methodology in You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown. Do you think it swayed people's answers? How would you decide whom to vote for? How does the special compare to real life elections?
How do Charlie Brown and the gang handle the bully? How can you stand up to bullies?
Compare the first feature, made in 1972, with the second, made in 2006. Which similarities and differences do you see in the characters, their voices, the stories? Which one did you like better, and why?
- In theaters: October 2, 1972
- On DVD or streaming: October 6, 2008
- Cast: Chad Webber, Robin Kohn, Stephen Shea
- Director: Bill Melendez
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character strengths: Integrity
- Run time: 29 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: December 20, 2019
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