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DVD Review: PEANUTS: SNOOPY'S REUNION



Studio: Warner Home Video
Year: 1991
Cast: Philip Shafran, Josh Keaton, Kaitlyn Walker, Laurel Page, Steve Stoliar, Megan Parlen, Bill Melendez
Director: Sam Jaimes
Release Date: April 07, 2009
Rating: Not Rated for (good grief)
Run Time: 00h:23m:14s
Genre(s): cartoons, kids, animation

Charlie Brown: A boy without a dog is like a day without sunshine.
Linus: I thought that was a meal without wine.
- Philip Shafran, Josh Keaton

PEANUTS: SNOOPY'S REUNION

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SNOOPY'S REUNION is a must for trivia buffs who need to know which member of the beagle family plays the jug. Bonus special FLASHBEAGLE will change the way you look at Jennifer Beals forever.

Movie Grade: C+

DVD Grade: B

Charles M. Schulzís Peanuts was a big part of my life growing up. It was my older brotherís obsession of choice, and my parents spent a fortune on Charlie Brown and Snoopy collectibles that we could look at, but rarely touch (we never got the really cool stuff like the talking Snoopy take-off on Teddy Ruxpin or the snow cone machine, though, so I wasnít too broken up about it).

One Memorial Day, the whole family even took a trip to the Mall of America in Minnesota, not to dive into an orgy of consumerism, but to explore the laughable indoor Knotís Berry Farm theme park, which counted the iconic characters as its mascots. My most vivid memory of the trip is poring over all the merchandise in the gift shop and being amazed that Snoopy, his sister Belle, and brother Spike (you know, the one who lives in a cactus in the desert) werenít the only pups to come from the Daisy Hill Puppy Farmóplush dolls abounded for a bunch of other unfamiliar characters, all of which conveniently looked more or less like Snoopy with different markings and accessories (Look, this one has spots! He is utterly unique!).

In retrospect, itís hard to see that litter of beagles as anything more than a marketing ploy, despite the fact that a few of them appeared (very rarely) in the funny pages. This impression is more or less verified by SNOOPYíS REUNION, a 1991 television special designed to endear the characters to millions of insistent young consumers no doubt eager to collect them all.

It doesnít help that itís easily one of the weakest of the specials, which were long past their A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS prime. It starts off awkwardly with the introduction of Snoopyís recently-pregnant mother nursing her brood (not something I ever expected to see). Worse, the kindly old proprietor of Daisy Hill is a major character who carries on lovable conversations with the dog rather than bleating at her like a muted trombone from offscreen. The Peanuts specials with real adults are never good.

The puppies soon form a band out in the barn, but the owner decides to sell anyway, because reality shows hadnít been invented yet. They get adopted one-by-one, and Snoopy is picked up (and later returned) by a little girl named Lila (providing us a LOST-style flashback that wildly contradicts much of the history presented in SNOOPY, COME HOME) before Charlie Brown, who apparently lives with his sister sans adult supervision, stops by for a puppy to fill the hole in his heart where his parents should be.

Several confusing time jumps later (Charlie Brown says four years have passed, but Sally is still a 5-year-old), Snoopy is depressed, so Charlie Brown decides to get the band back together for a concert at the puppy farm, resulting in an amusing montage of all the different dogs getting the invite; all of them seem to live independently of humans, and one even has his own mailbox. Their reunion takes a wistful turn when the gang returns to their birthplace, ending the special on an oddly melancholic note.

If SNOOPY'S REUNION is a marketing piece, then FLASHBEAGLE, presented here as a bonus feature, is a straight-up commercial. A weird attempt to cash in on the trashy dancing steelworker flick FLASHDANCE, the 1984 special posits that Snoopy spends his evenings in a ripped sweatshirt and legwarmers and, um, breakdancing. It's mostly just an excuse to plug the associated album, which I may or may not have listened to so many times I literally wore out the cassette. In lieu of a plot, there's a string of musical segments, from Lucy's Simon Says-inspired Lucy's the Boss (she's bossy!) to Peppermint Patty's Get in Shape (not doing anything to quiet the rumor mill there, Patty) before Snoopy finally takes to the floor, resulting in a sequence that may be one of the greatest things to come out of the '80s ("They call him flash, flash, flash, flash, Flashbeagle/ When he jumps up high, he flies like a wild eagle").

The DVD: Unfortunately, the "restored" bit on the cover is only referring to SNOOPY'S REUNION, which looks pretty strong, with solid colors and detail, and features a clear mono mix. FLASHBEAGLE, meanwhile, is washed out and grainy, with a line running down one side of the frame. But at least the audio sounds better than it does on that old cassette. Amusingly, both cartoons offer an optional Japanese mix and subtitles in English, French, Japanese, Korean, and Thai (Charlie Brown is huge in Asia).

Extras-wise, there's a 10-minute featurette that catches up with some of the original voice cast, as producer Bill Melendez talks about how unusual it was for young characters to be voiced by real kids in the 1960s.

Posted by: Joel Cunningham - April 17, 2009, 5:50 am - DVD Review
Keywords: peanuts, snoopy, charlie brown, flashdance, jennifer beals, 1980s, cartoons




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