Snoopy Come Home
After the success of 1969's A Boy Named Charlie Brown
, a second Peanuts movie, Snoopy Came Home
came along in 1972.
Just like A Boy Named Charlie Brown
, my memories of this movie were
seeing it broadcast on WPIX 11 on Thanksgiving Day, 1992, which my
parents had the foresight to record on VHS so I could enjoy it,
complete with now timeless commercials, for years to come.
It's funny that the first and second Peanuts films would air together
on that same day, as they're both what I'd consider "covert animated
musicals". I never thought of either of these films as musicals when
watching them as a child, yet the lyrics to so many of the songs, such
as "Snoopy Come Home", "At The Beach" and "No Dogs Allowed" were such a
distinct part of my early childhood.
I think this is because unlike a prototypical animated musical, such as
a Disney classic, where there's a distinct shift of mode between
"normal mode" and "musical number mode" in which the scenery, movement,
and atmosphere revolves around the characters singing a song that
usually also advances the narrative, Snoopy Come Home
instead uses its
songs as background pieces which the characters themselves don't
actually sing, and which don't actually dominate the pacing of whatever
is taking place on the screen.
when "No Dogs Allowed" is played as Snoopy as kicked off the public
beach, it feels less like a "musical number" and more like classical
"No Dogs Allowed", along with other songs like "Best of Buddies" and
"Gettin It Together" serve the function of subtly narrating the film
while allowing the film's main character, Snoopy, to carry the film in
spite of his inability to speak.
It's interesting how they made Snoopy the main character of this movie
without him having any spoken dialog. Snoopy being a "silent"
character talking only through barks and yelps provided by Bill
Melendez has been a tradition of the animated adaptations of that began
with the first Peanuts special, 1965's A Charlie Brown Christmas
However, in the original Charles Schulz comic strips, Snoopy had
extensive dialog represented via "thought bubbles" similar to Garfield,
and this was an essential element to his character in those comics.
It's very impressive that the animated depiction of Snoopy as "silent"
works so perfectly, even in a feature length screenplay in which most
writers, had the convention of a silent Snoopy not already been
successfully established, would be begging for permission to allow
Snoopy to talk.
Snoopy Come Home
basically begins with a depiction of Snoopy's daily
life in Charlie Brown's neighborhood and his interactions with the kids
in his life.
Things start going south for Snoopy as he finds himself unable to play
with his human friends at places like the beach and public library due
to "No Dogs Allowed" signs, and then ends up having arguments and
misunderstandings with Linus, Snoopy, Charlie Brown, which makes him
Snoopy then gets a letter from his previous owner who is ill and asking
him to visit her at the hospital. Snoopy and his bird friend Woodstock
take off, leaving all the children wondering where Snoopy went and
feeling guilty that they were mean to him.
Snoopy's journey has him venturing to the hospital where Lila is being
cared for, and weighing his conflicted loyalties to both Lila and to
The journey of Charlie Brown and his friends has them digging up the
history of Snoopy's mysterious previous owner, and basically trying to
deal with finding a way to feel good after suffering what they fear
might be the permanent loss of a friend.
Both halves of the story tie together well. This is probably the most
sentimental of the four classic Peanuts animated films, and features
what might be some of the most infamously gut-wrenching scenes of the
entire Peanuts franchise.
Snoopy decides that he's going to leave Charlie Brown and move in with
Lila, the narrative basically handles the situation as though Snoopy is
dying. The kids have a "going away" party for Snoopy, but the writing
and the way the characters act has overtones of friends giving eulogies
funeral that even very small children will be unlikely to miss entirely.
This culminates in a scene consisting of Snoopy and the nearly entire
cast of Peanuts bawling inconsolably, spewing tears from their eyes
like fountains, while Schroder plays "It's A Long Way to Tipperary" on
his piano. The sequence goes on for about thirty seconds, and while
it's not as gut wrenching traumatic as, for instance, the death of
Bambi's mother, or as soulful or artistic as Fiver searching for his
brother in Watership Down, the sight of all these familiar, fairly
innocent child characters in this simplistic, almost exaggerated
expression of grief is at the very least uncomfortable, and for a small
kid, maybe even upsetting.
Another memorable moment is the sequence featuring the song "It
Changes". All the scene amounts to is Charlie Brown, after Snoopy has
apparently left him forever, waking up in the middle of the night,
pouring himself a bowl of cold cereal he doesn't have the appetite to
eat, and then going outside in his night clothes and staring at
Snoopy's empty dog house.
For a franchise which perhaps to a fault focuses so much on Charlie
Brown's struggles with unhappiness, and often even uses it as the basis
for its humor,
to actually see him go through this on screen is probably one of the more honest and heartfelt moments Peanuts has to offer.
This is particularly interesting as the loss of a pet is often one of
the earliest experiences with loss a young person is challenged with
navigating through, and this sequence depicts a relatable child
character dealing with a realistic situation in a realistic way.
However, the movie isn't overly sappy or emotional, and lightening up
the mood are scenes like Snoopy and Woodstock's encounter with a crazy
little girl who tries to make Snoopy her pet, and Peppermint Patty
taking Charlie Brown on a pseudo-date to a local carnival.
Snoopy does come home in the end of course, which should be obvious
enough, but it happens by way of an ironic twist of fate the movie sets
up nicely and does feel like a genuine surprise when it does happen.
In A Boy Named Charlie Brown
and Snoopy Come Home
, the films involve
certain Peanuts characters leaving the typical setting of Charlie
Brown's neighborhood. In the first film, Charlie Brown, Linus, and
Snoopy go to Manhattan, and in the second film, Woodstock and Snoopy go
on a trip to Lila's hospital which seems to be a day's walk away.
both of these movies still share Charlie Brown's neighborhood as their
primary setting. The second two films of the Peanuts film tetralogy,
perhaps in attempt to "up the ante" and retain viewership throughout
multiple films, are set in more exotic locations far from the suburban
streets and baseball fields that are the usual backdrop of the Peanuts
universe, and as such, Snoopy Come Home
is the last of the Peanuts
films to take place in a setting reflective of the comic strip, TV
holiday specials and the Saturday morning animated cartoon.
Like A Boy Named Charlie Brown
, the animation of Snoopy Come Home
essentially identical to that of the televised Peanuts holiday specials
of the era, and for a theatrical release, it was an extremely
distinctive move, but the increased budget and work-hours allow for
some pivot shots and slightly more dynamic "camerawork" as it were,
than what would be seen on TV.
I would absolutely recommend Snoopy Come Home
, my fond
memories of it hold up every November when I pop in my old VHS tape
recorded off TV back in the early 1990's.
Now, for some nitpicks and observations of mine.
- The running gag of Peppermint Patty thinking Snoopy is a "funny
looking kid with a big nose" rather than a dog, which is also present
in the comic strips and TV adaptations is present here, with Peppermint
Patty taking Snoopy out on a date at the beach. Its all perfectly
innocent, but even in a world where a beagle can become an accomplished
novelist, airplane pilot, magician, and countless other professions, I
always just felt it was kind of... strange.
- This is the first Peanuts movie in which Peppermint Patty has
dialog and is referred to by name, though she does briefly appear in A
Boy Named Charlie Brown. This is Marcie's first appearance in a Peanuts
movie as well.
- Isn't Lila kind of reprehensibly selfish for expecting Snoopy to
throw away his life with Charlie Brown just to live with her once she
leaves the hospital? Just as likely its simply a case of childhood
innocence and the undeveloped state of being a young child leading her
to not properly considering the feelings of Snoopy and Charlie Brown,
but am I really to believe the only thing keeping Snoopy and Charlie
Brown from being separated forever was the technicality that there was
a No Dogs Allowed sign posted in front of Lila's apartment building? A
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- In the library scene, Charlie Brown is sitting at a table
quietly reading a book to Sally, then Snoopy, sit across the table from
them and starts riotously laughing in the most loud and obnoxious
manner possible. The hilarious part to me is how Charlie Brown and
Sally don't say anything, but instead they both just stare at Snoopy
with this shared expression of calm, emotionless disbelief and
disapproval. Just seeing Charlie Brown and Sally glaring at Snoopy like
he has problems, followed by a scene of him being ejected like a
cannonball from the library, is priceless.
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