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Snoopy 4-Movie Collection (Blu-ray + Digital), The
The half-hour Peanuts specials that began with the iconic Charlie Brown Christmas were all short films of their own. So it made sense for the franchise to occasionally dabble in theatrical features with varying degrees of success. This blu-ray set compiles all four of Snoopy and Co's theatrical releases in one convenient package.
A Boy Named Charlie Brown: This is the first feature release within the Peanuts brand. It contains the trademark charm and focuses on the virtues of failure that made Peanuts a massive hit across the world. For a first feature effort, it's also a bit rough around the edges, with fairly slow pacing that indulges in too many psychedelic montages. Still, it's a lot of fun to follow the hapless Charlie Brown into the national spelling bee championship, even though anyone who knows Chuck can guess how it will turn out. 3 stars.
Snoopy Come Home: It's hard not to pull out the hankies when it comes to this beautiful tearjerker, about Snoopy leaving Charlie Brown to live with his first owner, a girl who has cancer. This is the one Peanuts film that feels like it has a complete feature structure and not a series of skits that are strung together (Which is usually the way the specials were constructed anyway, so Snoopy Comes Home is the outlier here). It's inspiring and heartbreaking in equal measure, an underrated gem. 4.5 stars.
Race For Your Life Charlie Brown: This is a more kinetic outing from the franchise. It has the giddily goofy feel of the racing comedies of the period, like Cannonball Run. The classic Snoopy/Woodstock bickering is the highlight of this one. 3.5 stars.
Bon Voyage Charlie Brown: The Simpsons episode where Bart is shipped to France would go hand-in-hand with this Peanuts adventure that sees the gang heading to the land of frog legs and snooty waiters. The French stereotypes are plentiful, serving as the background to a series of terrific Peanuts comedy set-pieces. 3.5 stars.
Three of the 1080p transfers contain the cleanest versions of the films you'll ever see, to the point of noticing every little detail and separation of the background and foreground elements, which offers a nice study of cell animation. One of the films, A Boy Named Charlie Brown, looks faded and is marred by scratches and blemishes.
Race For Your Life and Bon Voyage come with lossless mono tracks, while the other features sport DTS-HD 5.1 presentations. The surround presentation is especially important for Snoopy Come Home since it gives spatial life to the film's many memorable songs. Surround tracks for the other two films would have been appreciated, but the mono presentations are at least clean and show a lot of depth.
Travels With Charlie: This featurette about the making of Bon Voyage offers an in-depth look at the animation process. A gem for Peanuts superfans.
There are also Trailers for all four films.
This is an affordable and comprehensive treasure trove for Peanuts fans, young and old alike.
Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com