A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is a 1973 animated Thanksgiving film about Charlie Brown, the famous animated character from the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, throwing an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner for all of his friends.
The other films in this holiday trilogy in it include A Charlie Brown Christmas from 1965 and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown from 1966.
They all work as standalone stories. There is no need to watch them in a specific order.
I decided to review A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving because it’s the least well known part of this trilogy. It wasn’t something I was aware of growing up even though I knew about and liked the other films.
This review won’t contain a list of characters for spoiler reasons. The run time was only 25 minutes for this film, so I don’t have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to discussing the plot without giving away what happens in it.
The premise was one of the other reasons why I wanted to review this film. I can’t imagine throwing together a Thanksgiving dinner on the same day I discovered such a thing was expected of me. Ugh!
Charlie Brown (who is pictured in the film poster above) didn’t even have the advantage of knowing how to roast a turkey or make all of the traditional side dishes for this holiday. He was a child who was just beginning to learn to make simple dishes like toast and popcorn, so his predicament was even worse than I originally assumed it would be.
I was intrigued by what a Thanksgiving dinner cooked by a kid his age would be like and if he’d figure out how to get everything warm and on the table at the same time. Seeing what that process was like for him was a great deal of fun.
One of the other unexpected twists in this film had to do with what happens when Thanksgiving doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would. That message is just as relevant now as it was nearly fifty years ago. Honestly, it’s even more relevant now in some ways than it was when it first came out!
I loved the way the filmmakers approached the concept of feeling disappointment about the holiday festivities you’d planned and how to handle that emotion.
There are so many more things I want to say about the expectation of having a “perfect” Thanksgiving…but they’ll quickly wander into spoiler territory if I’m not careful.
It was also interesting to note how the culture of Thanksgiving has evolved since 1973. The ways the characters talked about the first Thanksgiving and this holiday in general weren’t exactly the same as they’re often discussed these days, although they did remind me of how these topics were handled when I was a kid.
I wonder what kids today would think of this tale?
Do note that the preview I included below for this short film is an original one from 1973 and does include some spoilers.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is available on Apple TV.