The SNOOPY 4-MOVIE COLLECTION includes the debut classic A Boy Named Charlie Brown, the on-screen debut of Woodstock in Snoopy Come Home, the outdoor adventure Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown, and the globe-trotting antics of Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!).
Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!!) (1980)
Charlie Brown, Linus, Peppermint Patty, and Marcie travel to France as foreign exchange students. Also along is Snoopy and Woodstock. While everyone is excited about the opportunity to travel to a foreign country, Charlie is disturbed by a letter he receives from a mysterious girl from France who invites him as her guest only to find that he does not seem welcomed to her chateau.
While this could be said of most of the features in this set, a proper Peanuts movie is not burdened heavily by a strict A-to-B plot. The joy of this film is watching Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the gang get a humorous dose of culture shock when exposed to a new environment. Don’t think too long about the mechanics of why all of these extra children are allowed to travel to this foreign country, but rather laugh at the struggle they have with understanding an “English accent”. The first two acts of this breezy film are filled with many standalone moments that focus on getting the most laughs out of the situation. There are some specific Charlie Brown developments that come near the conclusion of the film that prove to be interesting, but most fans will enjoy the almost sketch-like presentation of this story that encompasses most of the feature.
Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977)
The Peanuts gang, including Snoopy and Woodstock, have gone off to summer camp. After a few days of the usual summer-camp activities, they all take part in a rafting race. Battling treacherous rapids, wild animals, and bullies from a rival camp, the teams make their way downriver to the finish line.
Perhaps most of all, this particular feature is the most vignette-heavy of the collection with only the slightest of narrative threads holding any given scene together with the next. The Peanuts gang really have a rough go of it for a good portion of the film. The journey to the camp is fraught with peril from a flat tire to one of the kids being left at a rest stop (I will give you one guess as to who…). What the kids hope to be a summer filled with fun does not come to fruition at the actual camp, as there is no time to sleep in, the food is very unappealing, they have to do school work (outside of school!), and generally just have to put up with mean campers. Their misfortune does lead to a good amount of ridiculously funny situations, but this entry feels slightly lacking compared to some of the others. As always, the voice work is impeccable and brings a certain warmth to the proceedings that makes you feel like you are watching a Peanuts film.
A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)
Poor Charlie Brown. He can’t fly a kite, and he always loses in baseball. Having his faults projected onto a screen by Lucy doesn’t help him much either. Against the sage advice and taunting of the girls in his class, he volunteers for the class spelling bee…and wins! Next, it’s the school spelling bee. Once again, a winner! Good grief! Now the pressure is on as he is off to New York City for the televised national spelling bee. With Snoopy and Linus present for moral support, can Charlie Brown spell his way to a national championship?
This feature film is really quite special when you spend time with it. Of the four movies in this set, this one gives the most thoughtful examination to the at-times helpless character of Charlie Brown. While not verging on therapy session territory, Charlie Brown is a kid who has to come to terms with a lot of the shortcomings that pop up within his life – of which there are many. You really feel for this character, as he has never really done anything to deserve all of the ridicule from his peers. This is what makes his journey to the spelling bee such a special time; Charlie Brown is a blockhead, but that does not mean he cannot succeed at times. The film does not go overboard or unrealistic with this bright spot in his life, but it does find a great number of ways to bring big laughs out of the dynamic between Charlie Brown and his friends. Not only is this narrative filled with big fun and memorable moments, but it provides a nice life lesson that only further elevates the status of this picture.
Snoopy, Come Home (1972)
When Snoopy receives a letter from his original owner Lila, he goes to visit her in the hospital while Charlie Brown and the gang are on the lookout for him. Suddenly, Snoopy feels that he must go live with Lila, but must say goodbye to all his friends. In his adventure to the hospital, he encounters numerous “No Dogs Allowed” signs, an annoying little girl who desires to keep him, and more!
Like A Boy Named Charlie Brown, Snoopy Comes Home provides a deeply emotional and thoughtful portrait of everyone’s favorite beagle, Snoopy. This story explores themes of confronting one’s place in the world in relation to the bigger picture. In the beginning, the friendship between Charlie Brown and Snoopy is somewhat strained due to the general passage of time and taking one another for granted. It is only when they are separated that they can begin to appreciate the special connection they have between one another. Charlie Brown realizes he may get frustrated at times having to take care of Snoopy, but he would not trade anything in the world for the friendship between them. At the same time Snoopy goes on both a physical and existential journey with Woodstock on which he will have to decide which direction he feels his life should take. These are highly relatable themes that are tackled with equal parts humor and emotion. The way in which this film dials back the dialogue and allows the story to play out through visuals and musical cues is quite impressive and projects a confidence it has in the audience. This is a truly wonderful piece of storytelling.
The Snoopy 4-Movie Collection makes its Blu-Ray bow with a pretty strong 1080p transfer. Both A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Snoopy Come Home were released previously on Blu-Ray, while the other two are making their format debut. All four discs are roughly the same quality, but the two debuts are a bit stronger in the end. The standout aspect of these discs is the vibrant colors that hold up well in contrast, consistency and vitality. There is a pretty mild undercurrent of nicks and scratches to these films, but they are in much better shape than any television broadcasts you may have seen and it does not prove to be a huge distraction. The natural film grain has thankfully not been digitally scrubbed away with a nicely resolved layer present on all four discs. The transfer does reveal a pleasing amount of detail and clarity within the animation. The black levels have a fine depth to them in the few sequences where the animation switches to a nighttime setting. While a major restoration may have cleaned up these films some more, the transfer on these discs should prove to do the trick for most viewers.
This new Blu-Ray set comes with a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 mix for Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown and Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown, and both a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and Dolby Digital 2.0 mix for A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Snoopy Come Home. Even with the different audio formats, all four films present in nearly the same way. Each track features all of the dialogue of the film quite well squarely in the center channel, but the music often struggles to feel as robust as it could. These films utilize music well to evoke a specific mood, but it feels a bit cramped. The dialogue holds up wonderfully, coming through clearly without being stepped on by the music or sound effects. The environmental effects are delineated nicely with Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown presenting with the most pleasing use of sound effects. These tracks avoid most major instances of age related wear and tear or distortion. These tracks mostly represent the original sound design well, but there are elements that could be improved. Optional subtitles are provided on these discs.
Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!!)
- Travels with Charlie – The Making of Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown: A pretty interesting 20-minute featurette which delves into the development of the story including how Schulz used his experiences in WWII as inspiration for the narrative. The creative team also discusses the increase in scale and the voice performances. This is a really enjoyable addition to the set.
- Trailer: The nearly two-and-a-half minute trailer is provided which breaks down the basic plot of the story and some of the gags.
Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown
- Theatrical Trailer: A nearly three-minute trailer is provided here with narration that gives away a good deal of the gags in the film, but still leaves quite a bit to discover.
A Boy Named Charlie Brown
There are no special features provided on this disc.
Snoopy, Come Home
There are no special features provided on this disc.
The Snoopy 4-Movie Collection is a set filled with films that will touch your heart and make you laugh pretty consistently. While not all four films are created with the same level of depth, each and every one of them allows you to devote some time to the Peanuts gang, which is never a bad way to spend a few hours. Even if you happen to own the two previously-released Blu-Rays included here, all four are must-owns for fans of these characters. Paramount Home Entertainment has released a Blu-Ray set featuring a pretty solid A/V presentation and a couple of new special features. This set will delight both children and adults equally. Recommended
Snoopy 4-Movie Collection is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this set free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.