Apple TV+ is now the house of all-things-“Peanuts” — so it’s the logical place dwelling for a brand new documentary about Charles Schulz, who created the long-lasting comic-strip franchise.
“Who Are You, Charlie Brown?” premieres Friday (June 25) on the streamer and clocks in at below an hour, quick by in the present day’s Ken Burns-style requirements however lengthy sufficient to cowl all of the bases in recounting each Schulz’s life and the “Peanuts” phenomenon — which conquered that print, TV, motion pictures and, now, the digital area.
Narrated by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, “Who Are You, Charlie Brown?” opens with new animated footage of Charlie Brown and his buddies at school, tasked by their acquainted tromboney-sounding trainer to put in writing an essay on the place they got here from. That opens the door for author/director Michael Bonfiglio to recount Schulz’s (and, by extension, Charlie Brown’s) story, beginning with Schulz’s childhood as a painfully shy boy in Minnesota nicknamed “Sparky” — after a comic-strip character known as “Sparkplug.” It was within the playing cards.
Sparky, who desires of beginning his personal cartoon, isn’t the happiest child or the very best pupil (“I failed everything it was possible to fail,” he says). He’s ultimately drafted into the Army in 1942, despatched abroad (he’d by no means spent an evening away) and returns dwelling decided to meet his lifelong ambition. After some suits and begins, “Peanuts” launches in 1950 and the remaining is historical past.
Bonfiglio does a pleasant job recounting that historical past by using archival interviews with Schulz, and new interviews along with his spouse, Jean — that are interspersed with excerpts of the various “Peanuts” TV specials that started airing within the mid-’60s, in colour, because it continued to evolve with the altering occasions.
(Schulz launched his first black “Peanuts” character, Franklin, in 1968, after it was steered by a lady named Harriet Glickman. “I held off on Franklin for a long time because I simply felt I wasn’t capable of doing him properly and I didn’t want to appear patronizing,” he says.)
Also included are interviews with celebrities who share their reminiscences of “Peanuts” together with Al Roker, Paul Feig, Drew Barrymore, Kevin Smith and Billie Jean King — a superb Schulz good friend who partially impressed his creation of spunky, athletic Peppermint Patty within the late ’60s.
We additionally study many attention-grabbing factoids about Schulz’s life and the way he integrated components of this into “Peanuts”: Snoopy was primarily based on a canine he had as an adolescent (there’s a photograph displaying Schulz, the canine and his dad and mom); and Snoopy’s “Joe Cool” and “Flying Ace” personas (battling the Red Baron, and so forth.) had been impressed by Schulz’s 5 youngsters (his son, Craig, is an govt producer). Sally’s behavior of calling Linus her “Sweet Babboo” got here from a pet identify Jean Schulz used for her husband — and there actually was a “Little Red-Haired Girl” — her identify was Donna and he or she was Schulz’s massive boyhood crush (he was distraught when she married another person).
Schulz, who by no means took a trip or missed a deadline, continued to do all of the work on “Peanuts” himself, even after having coronary heart surgical procedure in 1981, when his post-surgical shaky writing and drawing was merely integrated into the cartoon with out lacking a beat. He retired in 2000 and died that February on the age of 77, forsaking a pop-culture legacy that continues to resonate around the globe 70 years after its delivery.