Is A Charlie Brown Christmas Overrated?

It’s one of the most beloved Christmas Specials ever, but is A Charlie Brown Christmas deserving of its status?

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About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.

92 comments

  1. Oh man. This movie is so beloved in my household to the point where my parents love it (they were 18 in 1965 when it came out) and passed it on to me and my siblings.

    • Great editorial, Doug. I didn’t realize how much the studios hated this film until you mentioned it in this video and how they mirror the bullies towards Charlie Brown.

      I think I said this in Chris Stuckmann’s review of the Peanuts that I love the series so much because Charlie Brown represents the good kid who always gets the short end of the stick which pretty much explains my life. I honestly haven’t watched this special in years, but after seeing the movie (which is excellent, btw), I’m probably gonna revisit this film.

  2. It’s wierd but the more I watched this special starting as a kid, the more I wanted to watch it as an adult.

  3. well, i don’t like the peanuts anyway. so i don’t care…

  4. it’s interesting that the critic misses out one one of the other really good aspects of this movie; the slice of life. he kinda taps on them when complaining about side stories that don’t really tie in but they do. it’s about showing there’s more going on in this world then they have such a little budget, it gives it a more Christmasy feeling when you see that everyone has a lot going on this time of year.

  5. I don’t think this special is overrated at all. Sure, it might be played more than others in some places, but I think it gets just the right amount of publicity. I think the most overrated is A Christmas Story… oh my God, I remember one year, one of the local channels marathoned that all MONTH… not day… MONTH. But anyways, yes, I absolutely LOVE A Charlie Brown Christmas. Hell, I still quote it to this day sometimes. It’s what I grew up with, and it will forever be a classic to me. I enjoy the simple things, and this one is very simple and lovable. ♥

  6. Did you know Charlie Brown director Bill Mendez worked on Fantasia?

  7. So, in other words… “Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.”

  8. Well, it’s a simple slice of life kind of thing, that’s Peanuts in a nutshell. I can tell you this though, I think Krampus might become a new Christmas tradition with a lot of people given how successful it is right now.

    • It’s just a trend that’ll most likely fade away

    • Is the movie anything like the German tradition? In Germany the Krampus comes to beat all of the bad children with his cane, it is basically a worse version of Santa Claus’s giving coal to the bad kids.

      • In Croatia,it is said that Krampus accompanies St.Nicholas and if children were bad,he’d leave a ship or something so the parent can beat the children. And instead of Santa giving presents,its actually baby Jesus….
        at least thats what my parents kept telling mewhen I was a kid

  9. Can’t say I ever enjoyed anything from Peanuts. I only watched it as a kid because it was the early 80s and there weren’t a lot of TV programs to choose from when I was off school.

    Once I started having choices, I stopped watching Peanuts. I’ve seen a little of them here and there and dislike it more and more.

    And yes, as Doug says, the kids can be cruel. They also never, ever learn anything. Blech.

  10. What was the Peanuts movie with the girk who had cancer called?

  11. You forgot to mention that this was the first Peanuts special ever made. That’s really why it had such a lasting impression. It’s my favorite Christmas special of all time! I thought you wouldn’t mention a charity this week. Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of this special’s existence!

  12. I generally don’t care much for the special, not being a big Peanuts fan, but I do love the music. I think the theme to the special is my absolute favorite Peanuts song ever, even better than Linus and Lucy. Hell, I think it’s also my favorite Christmas song too.

  13. I seem to recall this special had a history of showing as few ads as possible, compared to the other Christmas Specials. Does my memory serve correctly? I always thought that was an appropriate touch for the special.

  14. There are actually people who don’t like this? If i were to guess, i’d say it was probably it was the kids these days who don’t get it.

    • As someone who doesn’t like the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, I can tell you why.

      Sure, it has a nice message. In spite of it actually quoting scripture, it’s not even preachy. It’s something anyone today could stand to learn from.

      But at the same time…It’s not enough, in a way? It’s an incredibly simple narrative that’s just…simple. Very one-dimensional. The characters are great, and the setting is very concrete, but the story told is, to be blunt, boring. It never really goes anywhere and the attempts at humor(schadenfreude at its most tame) don’t live up to the Charlie Brown promise.

      I think, though, that the worst thing about it is…there’s no nostaliga there. See, I didn’t get to see it as a child, when that seed would have formed. I saw only one or two of the specials, and I’m pretty sure not even all the way through. I saw this for the first time after I’d graduated high-school, and so there was no lens for me to see this through.

      I do agree with Critic that this movie may be a lot more developed than most give it credit, but at the same time, without the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia, there’s no way this can be enjoyable.

      • “without the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia, there’s no way this can be enjoyable.”

        That seems excessive. That is your own experience, but claiming that “there’s NO WAY” any other person could love or even enjoy it unless they grew up with it is kind of ridiculous.

        • When anyone says anything on the internet, there’s always an unwritten “It is my opinion that…” before the relevant statement. But it’s inherently damaging to any argument so say so, so we argue our opinions as fact rather than opinion.

          If you do argue your opinion as opinion, nothing ever gets done as the argument ends when you say, “Well, that’s your opinion and this is mine. We can agree to disagree.” Which is wrong.

          So for the sake of argument, YES, A Charlie Brown Christmas is TOTALLY overrated. As a straight-up entertainment module, it lacks in many areas. The only turly salvagable parts are the characters, but they can’t fully carry the work.

          Seeing ACBC as a child alleviates many of the flaws on first viewing, and the seed of nostaliga is planted. On subsequent viewings as an adult, you WANT it to live up to the expectations. Demonstrable in the video above, Critic was able to point out all the great many flaws(and he missed a few at that) and had to resort to a meta-analysis of the movie’s own journey to reconcile them against the idea that ACBC was “overrated”.

          This isn’t to say it’s a BAD movie. It actually is better than a lot of movies made for a younger age group, having more complex characters than even most movies made for adults.

          But it’s still overrated. Defending this movie is defending your MEMORY of the movie from 20 or more years ago. ACBC is okay. Good, even. But it’s far from the masterpiece touted today, and older audiences without prior exposure to it, you will find, will be a lot less receptive to giving the movie such high regards.

      • I’ll give my take on it:

        As a kid, I hated this. It was slow, it was boring, etc. Truth was, I just wasn’t experienced enough of life to understand it. Now, I love this special and it’s simple yet complex message. I’m not a christian, but I don’t let the religious part bother me anymore. I grew into this special, so to speak.

  15. Of course it’s not overrated. It’s a holiday classic, and it’s one of the first holiday I ever watched as a little kid.

  16. Bravo Critic, well said.

  17. My life is a lie. As it turns out, the song I had always known as “Charlie Brown” is actually called “Linus and Lucy.”

  18. Yes, obviously. “Peanuts” as a whole is really over rated. It falls into the “Seinfeld is unfunny” trope, it has existed so long and its ideas have been taken into so much else that it no longer has any impact.

  19. Are you gonna review Space Ace the video game that has the same animation as Dragon’s Lair?
    Just wondering.

  20. Blaze The Movie Fan

    I haven’t seen this myself, might check it out.

  21. This is one of my all time favorite Christmas specials and when I first saw the title of this video, I thought, “Oh no! No, No, NO!!!! Please tell me Doug does not hate this special!” Thankfully, he doesn’t. I never really gave much thought to the special being a pageant of sorts. That’s a very interesting take on it.

  22. This is one of my favourite Christmas specials. Was always able to identify with the indomitable Charlie Brown.

  23. This editorial seemed rather clickbait-y. Just like Mad Max Fury Road, I’m pretty sure not a lot of people consider this an absolute masterpiece, they just really like it. I would have thought you of all people would realize that one of the main things that drive people to watch the same Christmas specials each year is nostalgia. Peanuts had already been around for a while and it’s endured over the years even after the comic strips stopped, so naturally, a lot of people find Peanuts nostalgic. Why do people value this Peanuts Christmas special over the one that came afterwards? Because there was more time to be nostalgic over it. Sure, you made a lot of good points about what makes this special unique, but in the end, I don’t think a lot of people really care about that. They just watch it because Peanuts is nostalgic to them and/or watching it has been a tradition for so many people for so long.

    • I agree the title seemed click-bait-y, and I thought about Fury Road review too, lol.
      But Doug does give a pretty thoughtful analysis.

      Nostalgia definitely plays a part in the lasting appeal of a Charlie Brown Christmas, but it’s more then that. A lot of the slice of life ‘sidetrack’ stuff is stuff taken from the comics for fans of the comics. That might not seem like a big deal today where flash and 3D animated cartoons are churned out and we have the 90s animation renaissance behind us…but at the time it must have been pretty cool to see your favorite comic strip brought to life on TV.

      I think to not “get” the Christmas special is to not get Peanuts or Charles Schultz the creator. He used the penchant of children to be blunt and simple to play with ideas that as adults we often dance around or try to obfuscate.

      In that way, A Charlie Brown Christmas is a perfect example of what made Peanuts so great: Thoughtful issues broken down and presented humorously and artfully by the uncluttered minds of children.

      • I find the main problem with this editorial isn’t the analysis, but rather the question that prompted the analysis. A better question might have been something like “What makes A Charlie Brown Christmas unique?” or “Is A Charlie Brown Christmas more special than we realized?”.

  24. I first watched it in elementary school and thought it was very boring. Can’t say that opinion changed.

  25. Could you please stop playing these whimsical songs in every single one of your editorials? The content itself is pretentious enough, just trying to sound deep and reading to much into stuff. I don’t mind the editorials, even if I always almost regret watching them, but could you please tone down a little and stop displaying how full of himself the NC is?

    • Gee golly, I didn’t know Christmas music was pretentious.

      Also, why are you even here if you don’t like the editorials? Even more so, why are you complaining about the music as if that would help anything?

      Sorry if you can’t stand NC thinking about shit (and *gasp* putting calm music to a calm video), but I assure you it’s not pretentious as calling yourself “Underdog”.

      • I didn’t say the music was pretentious, I said it was whimsical. But most of the editorials come of as pretentious to me in the way that he uses over the top emotional/melancholic music, to try to validate his opinion and make it sound deep. He has every right in the world to intrepet everything that he wants into movies or other stuff. I personally just don’t like it when people use the media in a way, to manipulate people into thinking they have some kind of authority in this field.

        He is not even doing that in this or the other editorials, but I think that it tends into that direction, which I personally don’t like. I usually enjoy his other videos and like I said I don’t mind the editorials. I just hope that every now and than we could get some thing funny or at least entertaining here instead of more and more of some guy who clearly starts to think he is becoming some kind or guru or prophet to his fans (a.k.a. being full of himself).

        My nickname sounds pretentious? I had no idea, I’m actually not a native speaker. I mostly stoped using it anyway.

  26. Damn, Critic. I’m going into animation history and I hope someday I can write/analyze as well as you.

  27. Ironically, I watched Critic’s Top 10 Christmas Specials yesterday. So, is he overrating it himself?

  28. This is a very well written review/tribute to this film. Thank you for making me think about it again. Happy Holidays!

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