Apple TV+ has one other hagiographic documentary for you, and this one proves simply as insubstantial as its final aimless doc. It’s referred to as Who Are You, Charlie Brown?, and it premieres as we speak on Apple’s streaming service.
Sadly, for those who had been hoping for a deep dive into the craft and inventive impulses behind Charles M. Schulz and his world-renowned Peanuts characters, perhaps learn a ebook as an alternative.
Who Are You, Charlie Brown? assessment
Earlier than Charlie Brown and the entire Peanuts gang turned internationally acknowledged icons, there was simply Charles Monroe “Sparky” Schulz, a child with dangerous grades who had a crush on the red-headed woman who lived down the road.
Sparky began drawing after his expertise in World Conflict II took him away from his ailing mom as she perished. He needed to relive a number of the reminiscences he wasn’t totally “current” for to unpack the issues that occurred to him throughout his childhood. Schulz additionally needed to perhaps encourage children in all places to really feel higher about their very own common childhood experiences. And he needed to assist them see the whole lot round them as being probably noteworthy — and to not fear a lot.
Who Are You, Charlie Brown? doesn’t actually get into a lot of that. It mixes just a little biography, just a little evaluation from individuals who’ve studied Schulz, and quite a lot of testimony from the extraordinarily specious likes of Kevin Smith, Paul Feig and Drew Barrymore.
These are Peanuts specialists?
Now, I like Barrymore. However what precisely did director Michael Bonfiglio (who directed some Oprah’s Grasp Class episodes and shot a number of the David Letterman Netflix present, and who appears typically to have the cushiest job in Hollywood) assume Barrymore needed to provide in discussing the legacy of the Peanuts gang that … oh … I don’t know, actually anybody couldn’t have additionally offered?
Was Cameron Diaz busy? How about Selma Blair? Actually, what distinction does it make if the one experience wanted is, “I watched a Charlie Brown cartoon particular”? The doc contains interviews with little one actors, which I suppose is supposed to spotlight that the cartoons work even for this subsequent technology of children. However largely it feels just like the director simply grabbed whomever his agent had of their Rolodex.
Al Roker’s presence, alternatively, is smart. He was a younger Black man on the time Schulz launched Franklin into his Peanuts strip. Schulz confronted threats that newspapers would refuse to hold his strip if he confirmed the Black little one at a college desk subsequent to Charlie Brown.
Uncowed, the Peanuts creator did simply that — and nobody dropped his strip. Schulz added Franklin after the assassination of civil rights chief Martin Luther King Jr., and it was a quietly revolutionary second. In the event you assume that’s attention-grabbing — me too. However that’s as deep as this documentary goes in discussing the precise political ramifications of something in a given Peanuts cartoon.
I acquired a rock
I used to be having Dads flashbacks all via this 54-minute puff piece. What precisely is the director of Who Are You, Charlie Brown? attempting to say right here that isn’t already introduced by the mere existence of this documentary?
Peanuts was a giant deal. It made waves, and it modified issues … kinda. Sure, that’s why you make a documentary. Having well-known speaking heads say, “Sure, I beloved this,” just isn’t the identical factor as evaluation or cultural-impact research. (Plus, for those who acquired Kevin Smith, who turned you down figuring out this was an absolute nonentity of a movie you had been making?)
In Who Are You, Charlie Brown?, you be taught a few issues about Schulz, some well-known faces say, “I watched this,” and that’s it. The one folks I used to be in any respect considering listening to from had been cartoonists Robb Armstrong and Tom Tomorrow. I believe mixed they acquired three minutes of display time.
I do know why Apple TV+ did this. The streaming service purchased the license to Charlie Brown and his associates and have already produced two Snoopy reveals. So in fact it make sense to crank out a cheapo doc saying how essential their content material is. Fox had Morgan Spurlock do that when The Simpsons turned 20, and that was dangerous, too.
There’s simply nothing right here. Sorry, Charlie, you deserved higher. This and the Metlife blimp are going to go down in historical past as equally insufficient tributes to your greatness.
Who Are You, Charlie Brown? on Apple TV+
Peanuts documentary Who Are You, Charlie Brown? premieres June 25 on Apple TV+.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a movie and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay collection The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Movie Remark, The Los Angeles Assessment of Books and Nylon Journal. He’s the director of 25 characteristic movies, and the writer of greater than 300 video essays, which could be discovered at Patreon.com/honorszombie.