A Boy Named Charlie Brown appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While not terrible, the transfer suffered from a variety of flaws.
Most of the concerns resulted from print defects. Few parts of the movie passed unaffected, as the movie showed quite a few specks, marks, grit, blotches, lines and scratches. I thought it became a bit cleaner as it progressed, but the result remained awfully messy.
Sharpness was up and down as well. Most of the movie offered decent definition and precision, but more than a few exceptions occurred. Wider images particularly came across as a bit soft. Jagged edges and shimmering werenít apparent, but some light haloes could be seen.
As with everything else, colors varied. At times they looked reasonably bright and lively, but other shots were drab and dingy. There wasnít much consistency to the tones. Blacks were acceptably dark and dense, but shadows tended to seem too thick. The smattering of low light shots were slightly tough to discern. This left us with a ďC-ď transfer.
One oddity about the transfer: I donít know if the 1.85:1 ratio represents the movieís original dimensions. The closing credits came windowboxed and looked to be 1.66:1. I didnít think the film obviously appeared cropped on top and bottom, though the framing did occasionally seem a bit tight. However, if the movie wasnít intended to be seen 1.66:1, why would it go to those dimensions for the credits?
On the other hand, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of A Boy Named Charlie Brown worked pretty well. The soundfield opened up to a surprising degree, as the mix seemed consistently broad. Localized speech occasionally came from the sides, and effects were placed accurately. Movement was perfectly decent as well.
Stereo imaging for the music was unexceptional, though. The score and songs spread to the sides without much real definition. I wouldnít call it ďbroad monoĒ but I didnít detect any particular clarity to the placement of the instruments. The surrounds acted to reinforce music and effects to a minor degree and that was it.
Audio quality remained decent. Speech could be slightly flat, but the lines were consistently intelligible and lacked any edginess. Music also sometimes suffered from lackluster high-end, as the tunes and score seemed a little muted. Nonetheless, they were acceptable concise, and bass response was surprisingly good. Effects sounded more than acceptable, as they showed good clarity and passable depth. This was a pretty nice little soundtrack for an older film.
Too bad the DVD comes without any supplements. Not even a trailer makes an appearance on this bargain, barebones release.
As one who grew up with Peanuts TV specials and movies, I may not be the most objective judge of A Boy Named Charlie Brown. The fact I still adore the comic strips and remember the other pieces fondly makes me biased, but I think even when I try to view things objectively, Boy works. Itís charming and entertaining.
The DVD is nothing special, though. It offers surprisingly good audio but provides flawed picture and no extras. The combination of a likable movie and a low list price makes this one a disc I recommend, but not without some qualms due to the lackluster quality of this release.