Dash has been on a Charlie Brown kick lately – renting multiple Peanuts books from the library, playing the song “Snoopy’s Christmas” on infinite repeat, and absorbing the “big 3” Charlie Brown specials (Great Pumpkin, Thanksgiving, Christmas).
So to fuel his interest in all things “Chuck,” I rented one of my favorite movies as a kid: 1977’s Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown. I remember bonding with my 3rd-grade teacher over this movie (she was a big Peanuts fan), and I watched it countless times on HBO.
Plot: The Peanuts gang heads to summer camp, where Charlie Brown and his friends get harassed by a group of bullies who declare themselves the team to beat at the camp games. They trounce Charlie Brown’s team in events such as potato sack racing and tug-o-war – but when it comes to the final event, a river raft race, can Charlie Brown lead his friends to victory?
There’s always a risk revisiting things you loved as a kid, only to be disappointed and have cherished childhood memories tarnished. But in revisiting Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown, my memories were only enhanced by how much fun this movie is to watch.
It’s fun to pull for the Peanuts gang in their camp competitions (especially the big river raft race)…to watch the friendship of Snoopy and Woodstock (you’re not human if you don’t feel warm and fuzzy when they reunite after being separated by a thunderstorm)…to watch Charlie Brown try to step up and take charge when his nay-saying “friends” doubt his intestinal fortitude…it’s all FUN, dang it!
How’s this for a final endorsement? For several moments while watching Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown, I felt like I was 8 again.
A couple of minor critiques:
• For better or worse, it provides some early lessons on why to hate (and how to fight off) bullies.
• Peppermint Patty’s constant use of secret ballots, for every obvious or minute team decision, wears thin quickly (I deduct one star for that alone).
• The alternately funky and folksy tunes of the soundtrack.
• Dig the psychedelic closing credits, man…
Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown is not available on DVD; I rented our copy on VHS from our local library. [UPDATE 4/6/15: It's finally available on DVD! Click the ad below for details.]
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5).
What did Dash think?He told me he enjoyed it, and he offered frequent commentary during the film. A sampling…
• On the bullies and their odds of winning the river raft race: “They’re not gonna win…they’re gonna sink, I know it.”
• On Linus chasing away the bullies by snapping his blanket at them: “He knows how to do it.”
• His favorite part? “I liked when Snoopy gave Charlie Brown a ride [on his motorcycle].”
Will your kids like it?If Dash’s approval is any indication, I would say yes. Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown is one of those rarities: an older animated film that holds up over time. Things move at a pretty steady clip, and the 76-minute running time is perfect for the attention span of younger viewers.
Will your FilmMother like it?I’d say so. It’ll be fun for her to catch up with (and reminisce about) the Peanuts gang.
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
* Directors: Bill Melendez, Phil Roman
* Screenwriter: Charles M. Schulz
* Stars (voices): Duncan Watson, Stuart Brotman, Melanie Kohn, Liam Martin, Gail Davis
* MPAA Rating: G