on April 1, 2011
Here are a few important things to know about Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown:
* There are no pop culture references or cheery pop songs. The music isn't rehashed or remixed Vince Guaraldi tunes -- it's warm, reminiscent and composed by Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO fame.
* The Peanuts gang has not been "rebooted," "rebranded," or remodeled in 3D CGI. The hand-drawn characters are a seemingly clever blend of Schultz's originals and Melendez's specials. The camera moves are subtle, with a few clever twists that seem perfectly fit into the narrative (including a Snoopy vulture point-of-view).
* The Peanuts do not fight social ills, or attempt to grow an organic garden or welcome a strange newcomer to town. There are no self-congratulatory messages about the kids being "special" or needing to build their "self-esteem." (Not that any of these things are wrong in their own right, but the messages in the film, as in Schultz's strip, are subtle, gentle and belong to the viewer, not the creators)
* The film is an absolute pleasure to anyone who values Schultz's work, the Melendez specials, and/or their childhood from the 1960s through 1970s. And the really cool thing: hip preschoolers dig it too (at least mine did).
For the life of me, I cannot figure out how Warners let this get made. It's counter-intuitive to every decision entertainment executives have made in the last twenty years regarding children's entertainment. They most have lost a bet, or taken a dare, or something. But here's my message to the people who got this DVD produced: thank you. I sincerely hope there's more to come.
on March 29, 2011
Happiness Is a Warm Blanket Charlie Brown was highly anticipated, and it does not disappoint. If you're looking for a light, fun animated Peanuts special in line with all of the holiday classics, Happiness Is a Warm Blanket Charlie Brown is NOT it. It is, however, perhaps the most true reproduction of Schulz' Peanuts comic strip I've seen in animation.
Cartoonist Stephan Pastis' (Pearls Before Swine) writing is very much felt in the darker more melancholy mood of some of the scenes in this film. This reflects the darker tones present in the Peanuts comic strip in a very honest way that hasn't been done in any of the previous Peanuts animation.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of this film is the painstaking efforts to harken back to Peanuts golden age, effectively freezing the characters as they looked and sounded in 1964. The beautiful way in which this was accomplished almost makes this film a period piece.
One hopes that there will be many other new Peanuts animated productions of this caliber from the Craig Schulz/Stephan Pastis production team.
on February 22, 2011
Another peanuts special has been produced and is now coming to DVD (and Blu-ray for those interested in that). Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown is a great new special for those who love Peanuts specials or those who love wholesome family entertainment. While, admittedly, nothing can capture the magic and pure simplicity of the original specials (from the 60's and early 70's) this new special comes awfully close and comes highly recommended.
Linus learns his Grandma is coming to visit and plans to rid him of his blue security blanket. As her visit draws closer Lucy and the rest of the Peanuts gang try to help Linus learn to cope without his blanket. Lucy attempts to use her psychiatric service and good old Charlie Brown tries to help in his own way but can't stand to see his best friend Linus suffer. While all this is going on our favorite beagle has motives to obtain the blanket for himself. In the end Linus realizes that everyone has their own "security blanket" and isn't a little security is a good thing?
A great story based on a Charlz Schultz original.
Anamorphic Widescreen (1:78:1 Aspect Ratio). English Dolby Digital 5.1 sound or Spanish Stereo
The Special Features:
Deconstucting Schulz: From Comic Strips to Screenplay - How the Peanuts comic strip was made into a special
Happiness is...Finding the Right Voice - Meet the stellar new voice cast (Peanuts Specials, for those who may not know, have always employed children actors for the voices).
24 Frames Per Second - Drawing and Animating a Peanuts Special
Deleted Scene with an Introduction by Director Andy Beall
I'm very pleased with the amount of special features to be found on this release. For those not normally so excited about buying a release with only one Peanuts special, this one being 46mins and including so many special features certainly makes it worthwhile. Not only is there a lot of content, the bonus features are actually interesting and very relevant to this release. If they could just start producing this much bonus material for the classic specials being released, though I know they do try, but this is the best they've done yet.
So there is a new Peanuts special to enjoy for those of us who have worn out the ones already available. If it doesn't quite completely recapture the magic of those originals (honestly what could) it certainly serves up a nice warm helping of Charlie Brown happiness. The Peanuts specials are like a security blanket for those of us who grew up on them, this special adds a worthy patch to that quilt. 5 stars for the special itself and 5 stars for this DVD and the amount of material you're getting as a purchaser.
PS I Love the artwork on this release and for anyone interested in owning other Peanuts specials new to DVD there is another recommended release coming out, Happiness Is... Peanuts: Snoopy's Adventures
on August 22, 2011
I hardly know where to start with this one. When this came out,my first reaction was "another not so great new Peanuts special" like the ones they've put out since around 2000. You know how it is,you're raised on the old school classics,and the newer ones they've put out the past years or so,eh. Still cool to see the old strips put to movable "skits",but still,not the same as the ones we grew up with
Then I read online how it was REALLY well done and totally made in the style of the old specials. I just got through watching it,and I'm telling you,it's seriously like if they found an old lost early 70's Peanuts special. The look & feel is just like the classic ones. They went above and beyond to make this as basically an homage to old school Peanuts. not just in the style,but in all the great references. As Snoopy's scanning the neighborhood looking for Linus and his blanket,there's Freida and her cat Faron. Then the 2 dancing twins from A Charlie Brown Xmas jumping rope. Then Shermy & Patty(not Peppermint) playing in the sandbox
There's a GREAT part where Linus asks Charlie Brown if he has any bad moments in his past that would require a security blanket (or something like that) and it shows in 2 color flashbacks so many great classic 'poor Chuck" moments including the animated version of the very first Peanuts strip ever [...] but in the 70's style
There was not ONE SINGLE to reference to anything from present day. It was an incredible mix of the classic 70's Peanuts special style & super polished top notch animation. You could tell it was a top drawer newer production but you completely felt the old school vibe 100%. The part that really impressed me is that like all the other specials,it was basically a collection of old strips tied together in an animated special,but nearly every one was ones they haven't used in the other ones. I grew up with peanuts and I know every line that was ever uttered from day one until about the mid 80's,so it was great to get excited over hearing so many classic bits.
And speaking of lines,it's amazing how they found kids that sound almost EXACTLY like the voices from the old specials. Not all were perfect,but that part was just great. I'm telling you,if you are an old school peanuts lover like me,you MUST get this dvd. I am so beyond impressed and filled with joy over this. BRAVO
on July 23, 2011
I've loved Peanuts in the comics and special for as long as I can remember, but the quality of the television specials has dropped over the years. I had low expectations for this, but was completely blown away. If you read the peanut comics as a kid, this brings the strips to life in a way that you probably imagined in your head. The tone is very true to the comics, animation is beautiful, and the story length is just right. Very nice extras as well. I recommend the blue ray to completely enjoy the superb artwork.
Buy it so they'll make more like this!
on March 28, 2011
There may be spoilers in here, not story wise, but about how the film is made, so beware!
It's hard to say. I waited a long time for this special since I saw small footage and met the directors among others, including Jeannie Schulz, at Comic-Con for the Peanuts 60th anniversary. Not only was I giddy from this, but Linus has always been my favorite character, so the fact that it was a 42 minute special about Linus, and his blanket, which I had two of as a kid, I could barely contain my excitement.
The production design of the movie is great. The director had said, and the animators executed successfully, the feel of the 1960's specials, where backgrounds were hand painted water colors, where Snoopy's snout is a bit longer (Again more of his 1960's design) etc. So the movie looks much like the originals did, which is nice. However, attempts were made at..."Cinematography" if that's the right word. There were times when it was made to look like the camera was shifting, centering the characters in a 3D type of environment which didn't really do it for me. These are infrequent, so I was always groaning, but for huge fans of the originals, it's something that when you se it, you're like "...what was that?"
The voice actors were pretty good. Again, it's hard. High expectations are always there, especially for people like me who it's nearly impossible to shake the glory of the original kids from the 60's. But a big effort was made to try and cast kids who sounded like those kids did, and it's apparent, and pretty nice. Not much to complain about.
I suppose the biggest thing for me was the films almost seeming rather quiet. The dialogue was fine, etc. but the sound effects were light, and the whole film feels rather quiet, as if it could use a bit more "oomph" to bring it up a notch. Perhaps it's a personal thing, but I noticed the sound design seemed a little lacking. And the music by Mark Mothersbaugh was alright as well. But...I can't complain too much right? Who can? Guaraldi set such a high standard that everything else is pretty much just "That was nice." I guess I always hoped that they could just license and use the original music of Guaraldi's. I think hearing that, back by new images and a new story with these characters would make me pee my pants.
However, all this being said...It's Peanuts. Right? Snoopy, Chuck, Linus, Sally, Lucy, Shroeder, everyone's here in a brand new special. (Even good ol' Shermy makes a comeback.) It's cute, the story is fine, and the overall message is actually something I never thought about in my entire life reading the strip and watching the specials. A really solid point is made that brought me full circle and which is what brings that review up from a 3 star to a 4 star. I may have gotten a little teary eyed. So the fact that the special, as a whole, was enjoyable, and able to harken back to the Christmas special a little in terms of Linus and his beliefs, just sold me on it completely.
Overall, a good buy. Cool special features as well. I got the Blu-Ray copy which I didn't see on Amazon but it's image quality is fine, and it's a Blu-Ray, DVD, Digital Copy double disc thing which is cool if you can get your hands on it. (Mine was from Walmart.com actually and it shipped and arrived early, before the release of the DVD, which was awesome.)
So buy it. If you're a fan, if you're new to the gang, if you just like Snoopy, what have you. It's worth it. I think the reason I may be picky is because I'm such a big fan. But I think both big fans, moderate fans, new fans, anyone can find some nice enjoyment out of this new special. Totally worth it.
on February 8, 2013
I bought this for my daughter, and really never expected it to be very good. Honestly, I've never thought much of the Peanuts specials or movies from the mid 70's onward. But this movie absolutely captured the magic of the original Peanuts cartoons in every way. The animation is very good and has many creative touches; the music is perfect; the voices are just right; and the story is great, with a screenplay that could have been written by Charles Schultz in his prime. My daughter has been playing this incessantly, and I can't complain. I've watched it 4 or 5 times in the last 2 days, and really wouldn't mind watching it again. It's that good.
on April 3, 2011
Peanuts is in great hands. The people who made this obviously have an excellent understanding of what the work of Charles Schulz was all about. This is the closest to the classic specials from the 1960s we can get. The material is all drawn from original Peanuts comic strips from that era. The characters look and sound like the characters from the classic holiday specials. Only the characters from that era are present.
This "movie" (it is less than 50 minutes long, but probably the perfect length) provokes thought and is deeper and more insightful than most children's animation from any era. It is not paced like modern animation; it is paced like a classic Peanuts special. It offers a chance to slow down, take a deep, calming breath, and consider who we are and why we do the things we do. We all have a security blanket, even though it's probably not a blanket and may not be easily noticed by others.
If you enjoy the classic Peanuts specials, such as "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown", this movie is a must-have. By understanding what made the original specials truly special, the creators of "Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown" have made a new classic, almost 50 years later, and for that we should all be grateful to them and support this work, in hopes more like this will be made.
on April 3, 2011
With much anticipation, I watched HAPPINESS IS A WARM BLANKET, CHARLIE BROWN with my 4 year old daughter. She's a new fan, but she already loves the gang. I didn't know what WARM BLANKET was going to be about... we just dropped it in and hit play.
What's immediately obvious is that the production is lovingly put together; Striving to emulate the look and feel of 60's era PEANUTS. I really like that. I also like that the effort is made to create a full story, versus some of the story-less vignettes of recent years which are so disappointing.
What I didn't expect, however, is for WARM BLANKET to be so dark. Throughout, Linus is essentially bullied by Lucy and others to part with his trademark blanket. He's near-tortured by the constant threat of loss. (Add to that the relentless bit where Charlie Brown reflects on all of his external pressures!) It gets pretty real. Like Linus, my daughter is blankie-dependent, so she took all of the teasing and desperation to heart. I had to re-assure her that Linus would probably get it back in the end. That made her happy.
Bullying is a pretty hot topic on TV and the internet. But the end theme of these scenarios is how bullying is wrong, or whatever. Whereas here in WARM BLANKET, it's more about validating dependence as a way to get through the day. I'm not opposed to the message, but I know some wise-guy is going to re-dub the footage for youTube. When Charlie Brown sits by Linus' bedside through the night, helping him cope with withdrawal, the cynic in me feels it could easily be heroin Linus is jonesing for. It's not a huge leap.
The story is choppy at times with some non-sequiturs. And Lucy delivers the same punch line twice, "I'll never get married," which falls pretty flat. But I completely support the overall effort. I would love to see more specials in this vein. It felt focused and deliberate and genuine. For instance, I like how they didn't feel obligated to drag out every character... there's no Peppermint Patty anywhere. And Woodstock is barely seen. Let's save them for another story.
Lastly, you could play a drinking game based on whenever someone calls something "stupid." It's used throughout and liberally. It's not the end of the world, but my daughter certainly picked up on it.
on February 14, 2016
Our household loves peanuts movies my son is addicted to Charlie Brown. We decided to add this to our Charlie Brown collection one night when my son was asking to watch a movie. We enjoying those peanuts movies this probably isn't the best one but it's still a fantastic example.
The big thing you're going to notice in this movie is about poor Linus is attachment to his blanket and how cruel Lucy is to Linus. Likely the jokes about Blaine or over most children's heads but if my son had an older sibling or he was an older sibling I might worry about them picking up some of Lucy's behavior after watching this movie. It also brings into a lot of questions about Linus his mental state and his extreme attachment towards his blanket. But these are just funny questions adult asked them selves after watching a movie.
I think any child would enjoy this movie ages three and up my sons 2 1/2 and he's loved it ever sense.