It’s time for another one of the Peanut films. This one introduces the bullies into the equation so the stakes are a lot higher than usual for Charlie and the gang. Unfortunately, they are what bring the special down quite a bit. It just doesn’t mesh well with the usual gimmicks like Charlie always losing because losing to a bully is a lot worse than just losing to yourself. It was fun seeing the gang in a new environment though and a change in scenery was definitely a smart move.
So, Charlie and friends head on over to camp to have a good time. Unfortunately, the other kids are all really mean so Charlie must stop them in the big events. He gets the help of the other kids, but it all comes down to the final water race anyway. With no supervision and a multiple day’s journey, it will be tough to stop the bullies. Charlie Brown will have to come up with an idea fast or face total and utter defeat. Ah well, nothing that he is not used to at this point.
Unfortunately, most of Charlie’s friends aren’t all that tough. Linus is the only one who would stand up to the bullies at all. It was definitely nice to see him chase them off with his blanket whip a few times, but the rest of the friends were just annoying. It’s fine when they’re messing with each other since they’re all friends, but it’s not quite as fun when it is t he bullies intimidating them. Charlie Brown and the others just aren’t brave enough for this kind of situation and they aren’t even athletic enough to do much in the competitions. True, the kids were cheating, but the heroes had about 3 days to win anyway while on the raft. Considering that they were up against the bullies, they shouldn’t have left their raft unsupervised either. It was just not a smart move on their part.
The best scene was definitely the climax when Snoopy got involved though. One thing that I miss about the 80’s, 90’s and earlier is that the heroes used to set the villain up for the punch. He/She would lift the chin up with one arm and then punch with the other. It made for a really clean hit with a lot of power behind it. Snoopy needed his revenge since he hadn’t done so well early on and the final punch was definitely epic. There is another gimmick that doesn’t work too well for me to be honest. Snoopy is always very scared at the beginning and only gets brave towards the end. I’d like to see Snoopy clean shop right from the start.
The animation and soundtrack are fairly standard for a Charlie Brown movie. If you like the animation of the others, then you’ll like this one as well. It certainly has a very retro vibe to it and works well enough for this style. I’d like to see a Charlie Brown special done by the animators of One Punch Man someday, but that probably won’t happen anytime soon. Ah well, it’s a fun idea to think about though, it’s got a lot of potential.
The main subplot here involves Peppermint Patty as she tries to get her group to stay democratic the whole time. This naturally gets a little dicey, but Patty has the overriding vote if need be so the rigged system can work to her advantage. It’s a cool subplot to have and I’m always up for adding some political elements to the movie. Patty’s group is forced to swallow their pride and have some of Charlie Brown’s food once things get desperate. Trust me, things are desperate when you have to go to Charlie Brown for help.
Charlie does a pretty good job here for the most part. He helps the team out a lot in the race and doesn’t panic too much when Snoopy is at the wheel. Charlie doesn’t take it very well either, but at least he was willing to get back on the motorcycle the second time. He may never get to win in the end or have a super happy ending, but at least he keeps his friends from being in last. The Peanut specials definitely aren’t the same without good ole Charlie.
Overall, This is still one of the weaker Charlie Brown movies, but it’s not bad. I’d just like to see the cast get a nice confidence boost so they can hold their own a little better. This film went a little overboard since the bullies could get away with excessive cheating the entire time and there was a lot of plot hax as well. They should have won since they had almost a full day’s lead at some point. I guess you could make the case that everyone was going the wrong way for a while though so nobody would really get any farther. Doesn’t make too much sense, but then again, the race doesn’t make a lot of sense if you think about it. This is the final Charlie Brown special that I’ve seen so far so it could be a while before the next one. I look forward to seeing what the gang has in store for me at that point.