I’ve been writing a bunch of Rankin/Bass reviews lately, including one covering ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974), which I discussed last Monday. Well, we’re mixing things up today with a Christmas special that was not made by Rankin/Bass, It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown from 1992, a short and succinct title if there ever was one. Unlike the much-loved A Charlie Brown Christmas from 1965, there is a good reason why this one is not as fondly remembered.
While the original Charlie Brown Christmas special had a simple plot, it was also a consistent story throughout. Charlie Brown is still depressed despite the Christmas season being a happy time. Lucy suggests he gets more involved. He becomes the director of the Christmas play, but no one listens to him, and they even make fun of the sad, little tree he picks out. Ultimately, they have a change of heart and decorate the pitiful tree using decorations from Snoopy’s doghouse. It’s extremely sweet, and there is even a strong Christian message where Linus gets on stage and recites the real meaning behind Christmas. You won’t find a sweeter, more heartfelt Christmas special than this one.
The sequel, It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown, should have never been made. It has none of the heart of the original, and with no overarching story, it seemed more like an excuse to make a series of bad jokes. The only thing I found remotely funny was when Charlie Brown was attempting to sell Christmas wreaths, and his sister Sally tried to help by lying that the wreaths came from the Forest of Lebanon and would come with an autographed photo of King Solomon if you bought two. When he tells her not to lie, she honestly reports to the next customer that the wreaths were made from junky, old branches.
Another short-lived plotline involved Charlie Brown trying to earn money for $25 gloves for a girl he liked. Since when are gloves that expensive, even by today’s standards!
There is a Christmas play this time, as well, during which Sally bungles her line of “hark” by saying “hockey stick” instead, while Peppermint Patty, dressed as a sheep, whines incessantly about having to play such a boring role and proceeds to make baa-ing noises in a very loud and annoying fashion.
I really can’t recommend this one. While its predecessor, A Charlie Brown Christmas (created roughly 30 years earlier), is easily one of the best Christmas specials of all time, this one fails to live up to the same standards. This particular animated short can best be summed up in two words. Good grief!