Charlie Brown: "I have a philosophy that tells me no matter how bad things get, they will always turn out good in the end."
Lucy Van Pelt: "That's not a philosophy—that's stupidity."
The born-loser bald kid in the yellow-striped shirt gets his philosophy sorely tested in Snoopy, Come Home, the second animated feature to be derived from Charles M. Schultz's long-running Peanuts comic strip. Though the picture begins with the kind of cute antics seen in A Boy Named Charlie Brown and the Peanuts TV specials, a crisis emerges to drive the film's eighty minutes: as Charlie's friend Linus Van Pelt puts it, "You got a used dog, Charlie Brown."
Snoopy's previous owner, a little girl named Lila, is lonely during an indeterminate hospital stay, so she writes Snoopy a letter to request his company. Out of loyalty (and ennui with his current owner), Snoopy hits the road to join Lila, sowing deep insecurities in Charlie Brown and friends. There's a juicy supporting role for Peppermint Patty, who befriends Snoopy then later hits on Charlie Brown as they look for the lost dog; Snoopy, Come Home is also the screen debut of Woodstock, a little yellow bird that shadows Snoopy.
Eight songs by Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman ("Snoopy Come Home," "Lila's Theme (Do You Remember Me)," "At the Beach," "No Dogs Allowed!", "The Best of Buddies," "Fundamental-Friend-Dependability," "Gettin' It Together," "It Changes") considerably improve on Rod McKuen's contributions to A Boy Named Charlie Brown.
Like any Peanuts film or special, Snoopy, Come Home is quaint (in a nice way) but also has a satisfyingly skewed sense of humor, whether it's the visual joke of Snoopy donning a boxing glove on his nose to spar with Lucy, or Lucy trying to charm her way out of Monopoly bankruptcy by giving Schroeder an affectionate "beep" on the nose. Schultz, who wrote the screenplay, gets the absurdity of childhood, and director Bill Melendez (also the voices of Snoopy and Woodstock) gets Schultz, making Snoopy, Come Home a perennially charming way for kids to while away eighty minutes.
No extras on the first DVD release of Snoopy, Come Home, but a bit of dirt aside, the colorful image looks quite nice. The studio faces a minor controversy over the original aspect ratio. Facing a no-win situation from internet wags, Paramount chose the lesser of two evils and presented the film as it was originally seen in theatres: in widescreen. True, the film was created in an Academy ratio, but it was projected to matted widescreen ratios. Furthermore, since home video is going the way of widescreen, the decision is certainly justifiable and, for many, preferable; the framing seems quite natural. Given the nice price, Peanuts fans should jump at this well-presented DVD.
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