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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Snoopy, Come Home, a full-length Peanuts feature film from 1972, has been rereleased on Blu-ray (2016). It's the second of the theatrical movies in the franchise. Snoopy is the hero of the piece, and it's the first film that included Woodstock, Snoopy's little yellow bird sidekick. Charlie Brown angrily berates Snoopy ("stupid," "everything you have is because of me"), blaming his pet when he is disappointed in himself or frustrated. The movie features many upbeat, often funny original songs from Disney regulars Richard and Robert Sherman. It's important to note that there are multiple sad scenes in which the gang must consider Snoopy's leaving their family and community. Tears mix with laughter as a farewell party is held and as Charlie Brown and the other characters ponder Snoopy's potential new home in a distant place. Obviously, since Snoopy has maintained his place in the Peanuts world, the outcome is a happy one. Despite the sadness, and the fact that a few of the usual tussles seem a little fiercer than usual (Linus and Snoopy fighting over the precious blanket; Lucy and Snoopy battling with boxing gloves), it's very funny, clever, and original. It's a testament to the timelessness and universality of the humor and the emotional tone of Charles M. Schulz. Recommended for all but the youngest or most sensitive kids who might be apprehensive at the prospect of the beloved beagle leaving home.
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What's the story?
Snoopy (voiced by Director Bill Melendez) is one frustrated beagle when SNOOPY, COME HOME opens. Signs that say "No Dogs Allowed" seem to be everywhere, even his favorite places, like the beach and the library. What's more, Charlie Brown (Chad Webber) seems to be blaming Snoopy for everything, particularly his own human disappointments. So when Snoopy gets a melancholy letter from his hospitalized first owner (surprise, Peanuts fans!) Lila (Johanna Baer), a charming little miss, asking him to visit, he’s a bit relieved, and his sense of duty and loyalty takes over. Snoopy and Woodstock set off on a journey to see Lila. And what a journey it is! A profusion of obstacles is set in the beagle's path -- from way too many "No Dogs Allowed" signs to an alarming stint as the captured pet of Clara (Linda Ercolo), a rambunctious little girl (the film's funniest sequence). Back at home, Charlie Brown and the gang search for Snoopy, worry about him, and nearly give up ever seeing their beloved friend again. To the joy of everyone, Snoopy and Woodstock come home. It's a short-lived relief, however. Snoopy feels conflicted but responsible for Lila and has only returned to pack up his things and move permanently. It's an emotional time for everyone. Will Snoopy really leave them? If he does, will Charlie Brown and company ever recover?
Is it any good?
Wit, terrific music, and the classic engaging characters -- even a few who'd never before appeared in Peanuts comic strips -- make this 1972 movie both wonderfully fresh and comfortingly familiar. In Snoopy, Come Home, the iconic beagle's bouts with "No Dogs Allowed" signs and comically hazardous situations as he travels far from home reflect the singular creativity of Charles M. Schulz at his best. Bill Melendez and his team successfully bring the artist's vision to the screen. Woodstock's first film appearance is noteworthy, as well. Unlike most of the Peanuts fare, which deals with the typical trials of growing up and soul-searching, this movie, in a kid-friendly way, reflects on the prospect of loss and abandonment as Snoopy decides whether or not to leave his friends behind. Tears are shed, but not for long. Highly recommended.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the many ways in which Peanuts has been a part of our culture for more than half a century. How close do Charles M. Schulz's cartoon characters come to expressing our most real human traits? What factors continue to keep the franchise fresh and relevant?
In Snoopy, Come Home, Snoopy faces a true-life dilemma. What were his reasons for going to see Lila? Why did he consider going back to live with her? Did you agree with his decisions? How was the choice ultimately taken out of his hands?
Clara is the little girl who believes Snoopy is a stray and takes him home with her. What were her reasons for wanting a pet? What did she know about being a pet owner? How important is it to have the animal's welfare foremost in mind when caring for a pet?
- In theaters: January 1, 1973
- On DVD or streaming: September 6, 2016
- Cast: Chad Webber, Robin Kohn, Stephen Shea
- Director: Bill Melendez
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Music and Sing-Along
- Character Strengths: Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 80 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
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