It's a decidedly different tale than most found in the Peanuts library, but that just makes it easier for Snoopy, Come Home (1972) to stand out in a crowd. For starters, the story is a bit darker and more sentimental than usual, tailor-made to tug at the heartstrings of self-respecting pet owners and underdogs alike. Though it's only the second of four full-length Peanuts theatrical features (following A Boy Named Charlie Brown, 1969), this is an interesting "road trip" adventure that still holds its own against today's standard of style over substance.
After a fun and relaxed introduction during a lazy summer afternoon, a string of disappointments dampens the spirits of our beloved beagle---not to mention a series of No Dogs Alloooowed signs, which rightfully put ol' Snoopy in a foul mood. Run-ins with Linus, Lucy, and even Charlie Brown himself may seem a bit mean-spirited, but only the first seems a bit "out of character" (though at least we get to see how seriously Linus takes his security blanket). Still, these run-ins are put in place for a reason: after receiving a strange letter from a young girl in the hospital, Snoopy decides to pack his bags and go visit her. This makes perfect sense to us: when things aren't going right at home, don't we simply want to get away from it all?
With his buddy Woodstock in tow (who, along with Franklin, makes his first animated appearance here), Snoopy sets out to cheer the girl up---and for those who haven't seen the film already, I won't give away her "secret identity". Let's just say that Snoopy, Come Home is a bit of a character study for the WWI Flying Ace: among other highlights, we hear about "the early days"…not to mention what Snoopy's absence does to Charlie Brown and the gang. The score is fairly strong, even without the presence of Vince Guaraldi (though this accounts for the lack of balance found in the best Peanuts adventures), while the deceptively simple animation works well on a larger scale.
While its strengths are easy enough to spot, the rough patches found during Snoopy, Come Home are just as evident. Perhaps my biggest gripe with the 80-minute film is…well, the fact that it's 80 minutes. Though the impact of the story may have suffered greatly if crammed into a half-hour special, Snoopy, Come Home could have easily fit inside a 60-minute window with no trouble at all. Don't get me wrong: most of these events build nicely to the film's satisfying conclusion, but side-stories like Snoopy getting "adopted" by Crazy Clara---and, to a lesser extent, a few of the musical breaks---don't really add much, especially when viewed in hindsight. For this reason, Snoopy, Come Home isn't quite as effective as some of the streamlined TV specials (holiday-themed and otherwise), but it's still a memorable tale that has flown relatively under the radar in the last few decades.
Once again, DVD comes to the rescue: Peanuts fans were glad to hear that Paramount finally got around to releasing the first pair of theatrical films on disc this month...with the other two soon to follow, hopefully. Though I've yet to see A Boy Named Charlie Brown on DVD, this disc proves to be a bit of a hit-or-miss affair; thankfully, it looks as if Paramount has focused their efforts in the technical department. While a bare-bones disc is always a major disappointment for fans of any film, I'd wager that most will simply be glad to see Snoopy, Come Home in such great shape.
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
I honestly wasn't expecting much, but color me surprised: the transfer for Snoopy, Come Home looks excellent! Presented in its original theatrical 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and enhanced for 16x9 displays, the quality of this visual presentation should be a prime selling point for any fan of the film (NOTE: Previous VHS releases were presented in an "open matte" 1.33:1 aspect ratio, though the opening and closed credits here are window-boxed). The color palette is bold and bright, while dirt and debris are kept to a bare minimum. The only digital drawbacks are a few instances of very mild edge enhancement and artifacts, but this is still a very pleasing effort overall.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo presentation is basic but serviceable, offering clear dialogue and music throughout. No subtitles have been provided, though Closed Captioning is supported; unfortunately, CC doesn't usually work in combination with the progressive scan mode on most setups.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
There's not much to these plain-wrap menu designs (seen above), other than a simple chapter selection screen. This 80-minute film has been divided into a modest 14 chapters, while no apparent layer change was detected during playback. The packaging is also fairly by-the-book, as this one-disc release is housed in a black keepcase featuring colorful artwork and no inserts.
No featurettes, art galleries or interviews…not even a trailer. Though an audio commentary may have been a bit far-fetched (*groan*), I'd have liked to see some effort made in this department. To its credit, though, Snoopy, Come Home is priced nicely for a feature-length film, extras or not.
Though it may not be the most well-balanced film in the gargantuan Peanuts library, Snoopy, Come Home will likely appeal to any fan of Charlie Brown and company. I found the story a bit strange at first---not to mention quite padded along the way---but it's got a good heart and plenty of memorable moments tucked inside. Those who remember the film fondly should be glad to have it on DVD for the first time (and in widescreen, no less!), while all other interested parties might want to dip their toes in the water first. Either way, it's a decent movie-only disc for under $15---and with a price like that, Snoopy, Come Home isn't exactly a risky investment. Recommended.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in a local gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, general debauchery, and writing things in third person.