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Featured Blu-ray Review: Peanuts Double-Shot: A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Come Home

September 5th, 2016

A Boy Named Charlie Brown - Buy from Amazon: Blu-ray
Snoopy, Come Home - Buy from Amazon: Blu-ray

Snoopy, Come Home

We have a double-shot of Peanuts movies, A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Come Home, making their Blu-ray debuts this week. Sort of. I think. They were previously released on Blu-ray in Australia, but this is the first time they are being released on Blu-ray here. There is also some confusion on when the Blu-rays are coming out, but I’m doing the review this week, just in case.

A Boy Named Charlie Brown

The film begins with a couple of unrelated bits (cloud watching and Charlie Brown dealing with a kite). The plot begins on the first day of the baseball season. Charlie Brown has never won a game of baseball, or anything else for that matter, so it should come as no surprise that he loses this game as well. It’s not his fault really, as his teammates are terrible. He’s depressed and while Linus tries to cheer him up, it doesn’t really work. The next day he’s still really depressed, so he turns to Lucy for help. All she does is point out all of his faults using her unique system using slides and then something called football therapy. It should surprise no one that this doesn’t work

The next day while Charlie Brown and Linus are walking to school, Linus tries again to cheer up Charlie Brown. Linus suggests finding something he’s good at so he won’t be a loser. Lucy overhears and sarcastically suggests Charlie Brown should compete in the school spelling bee, which is happening today. After getting taunted by Lucy and some other girls, in a musical number no less, Charlie Brown decides to enter the contest and thanks to getting words like “Failure” and “Insecure”, he wins the class spelling bee and moves onto the school spelling bee. Is this an omen? Will Charlie Brown finally break his losing streak and become a winner? Or is he just setting himself up for a bigger fall?

On a side note, part of the plot involves Charlie Brown trying to remember the spelling rule, “I before E, except after C”. There are more English words that break this rule than follow this rule.

I’m going to start with the negatives. The movie tends to be episodic, especially at the beginning, and some of the side bits do feel like filler to pad the film out to a feature-length running time. Secondly, there are a few songs in this movie, but none of them are memorable. They could be cut entirely and for the most part the movie wouldn’t be negatively effected at all. Thirdly, this film feels old. It is definitely a product of its time and the art style and pacing are very different from what they would be like if it were made today. However, it is important to note that this isn’t a real problem, if you first saw this movie, or any of the franchise, when you were a child. Because if you watched these shows as a child, then this movie will have a powerful nostalgic impact watching it again as an adult.

I certainly got a hit of nostalgia from the film. I recognized jokes from the comic strips that I haven’t read in two or three decades. If you are like me, the jazz score alone will send you back to your childhood. This is also one of the better, and better-known, installments in this franchise. This is the last movie with the original voice of Charlie Brown, so that gives it added nostalgic feel. The story has a good arc to it with and while there are a couple of Snoopy bits that don’t add much to the plot, they are still fun to watch. (And let’s face it, you can’t have a Peanuts cartoon without a Snoopy vs. The Red Baron bit.)

Snoopy, Come Home

The Peanuts gang are at the beach and are having a great time. Peppermint Patty and Snoopy have such a good time that they decide to meet at the beach the next day, much to the dismay of Charlie Brown. Snoopy is Charlie Brown’s dog and he takes care of him, but Snoopy is tends to have adventures without him, leaving Charlie Brown angry. The next day, Peppermint Patty and Snoopy return to the beach for a picnic, but there’s a new rule, no dogs allowed. Worse still, they arrived separately, so Peppermint Patty doesn’t even know why Snoopy didn’t show up. Snoopy is so upset about this that he writes a letter to the editor. ... Okay, he doesn’t write it, because he’s a dog. He dictates it and Woodstock the bird types it up for him.

Later, Charlie Brown takes Sally and Snoopy to the library, but again there’s a new “No Dogs Allowed” policy. It doesn’t help that he was laughing loudly at a book. It’s so traumatic that Snoopy steals Linus’s blanket, but that only starts a fight between the two. Snoopy then gets into a sparring match with Lucy, who was practicing when Snoopy shows up.

Then we finally get to the plot. There is a little girl, Lila, in a hospital. She has no one to visit her, so she writes a letter and sends it. The letter arrives and it is for Snoopy. As soon as he reads it, he packs a suitcase leaves with Woodstock. It’s a rough trip, because the bus doesn’t allow dogs and later on he gets temporarily kidnapped by a pet-obsessed young girl. Meanwhile, Charlie Brown freaks out who Lila is and why Snoopy left.

So who is Lila? And is Snoopy just visiting her, or is he leaving for good?

I believe the most apt phrase to describe this movie is “right in the feels”. It is a really good movie, but it is also really emotional dealing with subjects like loss and abandonment, while still having some very funny moments. The film doesn’t have the traditional jazz score, but the music was instead done by the Sherman Brothers. While I like the jazz score of the previous movie, the songs in this one are much catchier and that’s a real improvement. Likewise, the show feels less episodic and more timeless. Overall, it is an improvement in nearly every regard.

The Extras

There are no extras on either Blu-ray. That’s too bad.

Also, the films are in 4:3 aspect ratio. They were theatrical releases, but the creators knew the shows would be seen by a lot more people on TV and made it with the TV aspect ratio in mind.

The Verdict

Both A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Come Home are worth owning. However, the two Blu-ray releases have no extras and are not particularly cheap. If you already own the DVD, then there’s no real reason to upgrade. But if you are a fan of the franchise but don’t have these releases yet, then it is worth picking up.

Filed under: Video Review, Robert B. Sherman, Richard M. Sherman