Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
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|Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown|
|Directed by||Bill Melendez
|Produced by||Bill Melendez
|Written by||Charles M. Schulz|
|Music by||Ed Bogas|
|Editing by||Roger Donley
|Studio||United Feature Syndicate|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||77 minutes|
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown is a 1977 animated film produced by United Feature Syndicate for Paramount Pictures, directed by Bill Meléndez, and the third in a series of films based on the Peanuts comic strip. It was the first Peanuts feature-length film produced after the death of composer Vince Guaraldi and used the same voice cast from the 1975 TV special, You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown.
The Peanuts gang heads off to Camp Remote somewhere in the mountains where they ultimately compete in a river rafting race; Charlie Brown, true to form, is accidentally left behind by the bus while at a desolate rest stop. He is then forced to hitch a harrowing ride on Snoopy's motorcycle in order to make the rest of the journey to the camp, accompanied by rock guitar type riffs while he is shouting in fear at Snoopy's wild driving.
Upon their arrival, the kids are immediately exposed to the regimentation and squalor of camp life which is a stark contrast to their comfortable residences back home. They are unfamiliar with the concept that the camp schedule is in military time (Franklin asks if "oh-five-hundred" is noon, and Sally thinks "eighteen-hundred" is a year). Although they do their best to adjust to the rigors of camp life, Snoopy, in a tent of his own, enjoys an ice cream sundae while watching TV on his portable set.
The gang must contend with a trio of ruthless bullies (and their cat, Brutus, vicious enough to intimidate even Snoopy) who openly boast of them having won the race every year they have competed. The only thing that keeps them at bay is Linus using his security blanket like a whip (which also gets him unwanted attention from Sally due to her praising the courage of her "Sweet Babboo"). It is revealed that their success has always been through outright cheating, using a raft equipped with an outboard motor, direction finder, radar, and sonar, and even resorting to every trick they could think of to hamper or destroy everyone else's chance to even make it to the finish line, much less win the race.
The kids are broken into three groups: the boys' group (consisting of Charlie Brown, Linus, Schroeder, and Franklin), the girls' group (consisting of Peppermint Patty, Marcie, Lucy, and Sally), and Snoopy and Woodstock. Charlie Brown is the very reluctant leader of the boys' group, well-meaning but struggling with his insecurities. His foil is Patty, the leader of the girls' group, who is very confident despite her incompetence as a leader. She insists on every decision, no matter how inconsequential, being confirmed by a vote of secret ballots. Predictably, when the voting is tied or she finds the results unsatisfactory, she often overrules the decision, to the disdain of the others.
The groups run into different obstacles: getting lost, stranded, storms, blizzards, and sabotage from the bullies. Snoopy abandons the race to search tirelessly for Woodstock when a storm separates them; after a long search, they manage to find each other and are joyfully reunited. Charlie Brown starts to grow more into his leadership role, becoming leader of both the boys' and girls' groups when the bullies sabotage both of their rafts, forcing them to work together.
Thanks to Charlie Brown's growing self-confidence and leadership, the gang is about to win the race at the climax after overcoming considerable odds. Unfortunately, Patty incites the girls to celebrate too soon and they accidentally knock the boys overboard in their excitement; when they attempt to rescue them, the bullies seize the opportunity to pull ahead.
The bullies gloat about their apparently imminent victory. However, their brash over-confidence, infighting, and constant carelessness during the race has seen them become involved in numerous mishaps, causing them to suffer substantial damage to their raft. Just shy of the finish line, their raft finally gives out and sinks. This leaves Snoopy and Woodstock as the only contenders left. Brutus slashes Snoopy's inner tube with a claw, but Woodstock promptly builds a raft of twigs with a leaf for a sail and continues toward victory. When Brutus tries to attack Woodstock, Snoopy decks him, and Woodstock wins the race. Conceding defeat, the bullies begin to vow vengeance next year, but their threats are humiliatingly cut short when Snoopy hands Brutus a rough beating after he threatens Woodstock again.
As the gang boards the bus to depart for home, Charlie Brown decides aloud to use the experience as a lesson to be more confident and assertive, and to believe in himself. Unfortunately, right after he finishes speaking, the bus leaves without him for the second time, and as before, he is forced to hitch a ride with Snoopy again.
- Duncan Watson as Charlie Brown
- Bill Melendez as Snoopy, Woodstock
- Gail M. Davis as Sally Brown
- Melanie Kohn as Lucy van Pelt
- Liam Martin as Linus van Pelt
- Laura Planting as Peppermint Patty
- Jimmy Ahrens as Marcie
- Greg Felton as Schroeder
- Tom Muller as Bully, Franklin
- Kirk Jue as Bully
- Jordan Warren as Bully
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown received a mixed review in The New York Times from Janet Maslin, who wrote: "The film runs an hour and quarter and has a rambling plot about a regatta, but it seems less like a continuous story than a series of droll blackout sketches, many of them ending with the obligatory 'Good Grief!' ... The net effect is that of having read the comic strip for an unusually long spell, which can amount to either a delightful experience or a pleasant but slightly wearing one, depending upon the intensity of one's fascination with the basic 'Peanuts' mystique."
Home video releases
The film was released on VHS, Betamax, and LaserDisc in the early 1980s and was also the very first release on RCA's defunct Capacitance Electronic Disc, also known as SelectaVision VideoDisc. The film was reissued on VHS in 1995, but has not yet been released on DVD or Blu-ray.
The film aired in prime time on CBS on Nov. 3, 1979.
Most likely due to time constraints, some TV and video versions of this cartoon, such as the aforementioned CED version and the version shown on Cartoon Network, cut out some of the scenes of Snoopy and Woodstock trying to find each other after becoming separated.
- Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown at the Internet Movie Database
- Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown at the TCM Movie Database