‘A Charlie Brown Valentine’ available on DVD

CharlieBrownValentine.JPGChildhood angst is perhaps never so strained as in the stresses of love, and Valentine’s Day brings that to the fore more than any other time of year. Charlie Brown, Charles M. Schultz’s beloved antihero, worries his way through 25 minutes of daydreams and despair in A Charlie Brown Valentine, helped along by the stalwart Linus and intermingling with the rest of the Peanuts gang as they, too, try to defeat disappointment.

While Charlie Brown obsesses over getting a Valentine’s card from the little red-haired girl he admires from afar, he’s insensitive to Peppermint Patty’s efforts to pull his attention to her; Sally continues to chase Linus in spite of his avowed disinterest in her; and Lucy hangs over an oblivious Schroeder but has no patience for anyone else smitten with an overwhelming crush. Snoopy is the counterbalance as he outdoes himself on gimcrack verse typical of Valentine’s Day cards, with messages in rhyme even very young viewers would find silly. But, as always, he’s the hero of the occasion – this time, ending up with a wheelbarrow overflowing with the desired missives.

A second feature on the Warner Home Video DVD release is Someday You’ll Find Her, Charlie Brown. A two-second glimpse on TV of a girl in the crowd at a football game sends Charlie Brown on a quest to find her. Tireless in tracking her down, he’s still too timid to speak directly to her; Linus stands in for him at every turn, and ultimately finds he shares something special with her and leaves Charlie Brown out in the cold.

Although made as TV specials (2002 and 1981 respectively), the stories retain the quality of comic strips, pieced together into a cartoon storybook. There are elements of each story that date them – will young viewers even understand what a mechanical pencil sharpener is, that Charlie Brown gets his sleeve caught in and ends up bringing onto himself the worst kind of attention when he most desperately wants to make a good impression? However, the characters are timeless – drawn in simple strokes and developed with uncomplicated personalities that give all viewers someone they can identify with. And Charlie Brown continues to muse on the deep philosophical questions of life in language children, too, can relate to: “I was almost happy yesterday” and “Just when you think everything is perfect, life deals you a blow.”

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