Although its storytelling may be simple at times, the 1973 Peanuts film, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” is an example of a fun family film that checks all the right boxes for this holiday season. Complete with fun characters, a great soundtrack, and a perfect touch of nostalgia, this film is a must-have for your November watch list.
In this particular holiday special Charlie Brown is met with the dilemma of Peppermint Patty inviting herself and two additional friends over to his house for Thanksgiving, despite him already having plans to go and celebrate with his grandmother. But thanks to Linus putting Snoopy and Woodstock in charge to help, they are able to make a humble dinner of toast and popcorn for the Thanksgiving guests.
Although this plot is very simple in terms of scale, that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective and enjoyable to watch. One thing that helps to elevate this simple story is the characters. When watching this movie it’s almost impossible not to smile at the antics of these characters as they interact with one another, whether that be the phone call beteen Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty where Charlie Brown can’t even get a word out, Lucy and Charlie’s infamous football scene, or the moments where Linus says something that sounds like it’s pulled straight from a college essay. This whole movie is filled with characters that make you laugh time and time again.
It’s not only because of the characters that this film is such a fun watch, the soundtrack (composed masterfully by Vincent Anthony Guaraldi) and the sound design act as another character in this film, helping guide the emotions of the audience through every moment of laughter, happiness, sadness, and anger that these characters have. Allowing much of the storytelling to be accomplished without the use of much dialogue, especially in the scenes between Snoopy and Woodstock, where there are no lines of dialogue and instead just a simple song leading us through these scenes. In this film and all other Peanuts films Guaraldi and the crew have done a fantastic job engineering the music to tell the best story they can.
If you’re like me and grew up watching these kinds of Peanuts specials around every holiday you’ll know the warm feeling that you get whenever those opening chords of the intro start to play and Charlie Brown and Lucy start bickering about football. It’s something that takes you back to when you didn’t have to worry about finals and student loans, when the world was simple and it was great to be a kid. That touch of nostalgia is what makes a simple film like this so much more than the sum of its parts. It makes it truly timeless, because even though the animation is outdated and the plot is minimal you just can’t help but smile while watching it.
I have confidence in saying that just about everyone from you to your grandparents to your younger siblings can appreciate this classic. It really is just a solid film, no big budget blockbuster, no explosions, and no celebrity cameos, this film’s mixture of good characters good music and good memories is all it needs to be a classic.