The Peanuts Gang Hits Europe in Feature-Length Animated DVD

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Bon Voyage Charlie Brown DVD Charles Schulz Peanuts Snoopy Critical Blast

The Peanuts gang may not be the most intricately animated group of cartoon kids, but they're certainly enduring. Their somewhat sedate pacing and thoughtful observations have made them a mainstay of our Halloweens, Thanksgivings and Christmases for decades.

In 1980, the team of Bill Melendez and Phil Roman brought Charles Schulz's comic strip tykes to the big screen (although not for the first time) in a full length adventure, BON VOYAGE, CHARLIE BROWN (AND DON'T COME BACK). It's a tale that finds Charlie Brown, Linus, Peppermint Patty and Marcie (and, of course, Snoopy and Woodstock) traveling to France as part of a student exchange program. This comes just after Charlie Brown has received a mysterious letter from a French girl named Violette, inviting him to come stay at the Chateau Mal Voisin -- the Home of the Bad Neighbor.

Unfortunately, she's done so against the wishes of her uncle, the Baron, which forces Linus and Charlie Brown to sleep outdoors, while Peppermint Patty and Marci stay with a French boy named Pierre, who develops a closeness with Marcie. What is behind the Baron's distrust of strangers? What motivated Violette to reach across the Atlantic Ocean to invite Charlie Brown into this mystery? And will Snoopy ever come out of that sports cafe where he's quaffing root beers while listening to war-era jazz? These and more questions are answered in an exciting climax (for a Peanuts movie) involving heroic actions from Linus (straight out of STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE, for those who recognize it when they see it).

This feature is a departure from traditional Peanuts fare in that it includes interactions with adults -- and not just the standard "Wah-Wah" of the teacher, but people who speak English! Some of them are even shown on screen, albeit in shadow (except for a photograph that serves as a pivotal plot point). Naturally, bereft of real adult interaction, the gang must make its way across the continent via the benefit of Snoopy's driving skills (or lack thereof), which adds a touch of the surreal to the tale.

This DVD release of BON VOYAGE, CHARLIE BROWN includes a lengthy bonus which delves into Charles Schulz's military service and the time he spent in France -- including time at the real Chateau Mal Voison which informed much of the film.

If you're waiting in anticipation for the soon-to-be-relased THE PEANUTS MOVIE, you'll probably be finding a whole spate of classic Peanuts material finding its way to the store shelves. You'll want to give this one a try.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0