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WARNER

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Sam Jaimes
Cast:
Philip Shafran, Josh Keaton, Kaitlyn Walker, Laurel Page, Steve Stoliar, Megan Parlen, Bill Melendez
Writing Credits:
Charles M. Schulz (and creator)

Synopsis:
Snoopy is homesick for his puppyhood at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, so he and Charlie Brown organize a reunion of his siblings Spike, Andy, Olaf, Marbles, Belle, Molly and Rover. However, when they arrive at the puppy farm, Charlie Brown is aghast to find that urban sprawl has replaced it with a parking garage. Snoopy and his family however, calmly begin to play musical instruments they've each bought, thoroughly satisfied that they are together on the sidewalk in front.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Stereo
Japanese Monaural
Subtitles:
English
French
Japanese
Thai
Korean
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
Japanese
Korean
Thai

Runtime: 23 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 4/7/2009

Bonus:
• “It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown” Special
• “Together Again: A Peanuts Voice Cast Reunion” Featurette
• Trailers


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Snoopy's Reunion: Deluxe Edition (1991)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 8, 2009)

If you can’t get enough of Peanuts’ canine star, then 1991’s Snoopy’s Reunion is the TV special for you! The show actually provides Snoopy’s “origin story”, as we see how he ended up with Charlie Brown (voiced by Philip Shafran).

Fast-forward a few years and we find a melancholy Snoopy. To remedy this problem, Charlie Brown helps Snoopy organize a family reunion. They set up a gathering that includes Snoopy’s siblings Andy, Marbles, Olaf, Spike, Molly, Rover and Belle. We follow their antics as they get to know each other again.

As I’ve mentioned in my other Peanuts reviews, I regard it as the greatest comic strip of all-time. That doesn’t mean I think it remained excellent from start until finish. I can’t pinpoint when Peanuts started to go downhill, but I’d guess that the strip really declined when it introduced lots of Snoopy’s siblings.

That’s true of any on-going TV show or other effort. Much of the time, they bring in new characters because they can’t think of anything else to do with the old ones. I certainly can’t fault Charles Schulz for his decision to usher in new participants; I couldn’t write five good cartoons much less come up with 365 strips a year for 50 years!

Actually, I suspect that latter-years Peanuts isn’t really bad; it’s just mediocre and not up to the enormously high standards Schulz set in the strip’s first couple of decades. Snoopy’s siblings simply represent its decline. They’re gimmicky and not very interesting in their own right, so they point out how far Peanuts fell from its glory days.

All of which means Snoopy’s Reunion is essentially doomed to mediocrity before it even starts. The TV specials never worked as well as the comic strips anyway. Sure, some very good ones exist, but in general, they tend to be pretty blah, and Reunion clearly falls into that camp.

Actually, I take that back: “blah” would be an upgrade for the generally poor Reunion. The show’s titles seems somewhat misleading, as the actual reunion occupies only the final few minutes of the program. Instead, the first 17 minutes covers that “origin story”.

I think the idea of a look at Snoopy’s early days has promise, but Reunion fails to explore the subject in a remotely satisfying manner. We already know a lot of the info from 1972’s Snoopy Come Home; nothing that Reunion adds makes matters more interesting.

Indeed, the conceit that Snoopy and his siblings all play in a country band just seems weird. Yeah, I know Schulz always gave Snoopy an anthropomorphic air; even in his early days, he had English thought balloons, and he soon transformed into the multitalented pooch the world loves.

So why does the country band bother me? I don’t know, but it just seems like an idiotic choice. What purpose does it serve? It fills time, I guess; I can’t find anything about the musical bits that offers any other reason for their existence.

To my surprise, Schulz violates a cardinal rule of the Peanuts universe: he includes adults as active characters. In the strips, he always maintained a kids-eye view of grown-ups and would only show them from the knees down. Not only does Reunion provide a full view of some adults, but also it gives them lines - and I don’t mean the usual “wah wah wah wah wah wah” stuff, either.

Again: why? Why ignore a rule that had been in place since day one? The use of the adults doesn’t make the show more interesting or entertaining. That side of things adds nothing and just proves perplexing to long-time Peanuts fans.

Granted, I don’t think Reunion is meant for those folks. The best Peanuts specials work for both young and old, but this one seems intended for the kiddies. And the small kiddies at that; it plays like something that shoots for five-year-olds. There’s almost none of the usual Peanuts cleverness and wit.

Indeed, this may be the most bland Peanuts production ever created. It stretches about eight minutes of story into a 23-minute special, and it seems more likely to inspire snores than laughs. The program seems too forgettable to inspire active derision, but it still does almost nothing to entertain.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

Snoopy’s Reunion appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not terrific, the transfer seemed perfectly acceptable.

No real issues with sharpness materialized. A few shots seemed a wee bit soft, but not to a significant degree, and those examples passed quickly. This meant the show usually looked tight and concise. A few minor instances of jaggies and shimmering popped up, but these also created no significant concerns. Edge enhancement was absent, but I saw a smattering of source flaws. I occasionally noticed small specks and marks. These became the most distracting part of the transfer, but they weren’t a serious issue.

Colors remained basic but pleasing. The show went with a simple palette that demonstrated good vivacity and liveliness. Blacks were dark and dense, and the occasional low-light shots seemed fine. Only the minor source flaws made this a “B” presentation.

Although the packaging claims the DVD includes a monaural track, it actually comes with stereo audio. Not that the mix opened things up too much, as the track remained low-key. Music became the main beneficiary of the expanded soundfield. Some parts remained mono to my ears – such as the tune Snoopy’s family played at the reunion – but most of the music offered gentle stereo spread to the sides.

And that was about it in terms of multi-channel audio. I didn’t notice any effects elements from the sides, as those remained pretty well centered. Since the movie featured very few prominent effects, however, this wasn’t a problem.

Audio quality satisfied. Music showed nice warmth; the score and songs were low-key, but they appeared lively enough. Effects remained a small part of the mix but were concise and accurate within their limitations. Speech was always crisp and distinctive. Nothing here turned this into a memorable track, but it seemed appropriate for the material at hand.

In terms of extras, we start with a bonus special. 1984’s It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown goes for 24 minutes, 19 seconds. Obviously influenced by 1983’s Flashdance, this one comes with no real plot. It shows the kids at school and at parties; the story elements really exist as an excuse for some dance numbers.

Flashbeagle works better than Reunion for two reasons. It actually sort of feels like it comes from the Peanuts universe, and it also provides a few laughs. That automatically makes it better than the duller than dirt Reunion.

That doesn’t mean it’s good, however. The absence of a true story ensures an awkward nature to the show, and the musical numbers are uniformly bad. The sight of Snoopy in Jennifer Beals mode is awfully embarrassing, though his big disco number feels more like Saturday Night Fever than Flashdance. This isn’t an awful show, but it’s mediocre at best.

Cast footnote: you’ll see one “Stacy Ferguson” listed in the credits. She played Sally, and she’d go on to be better known as Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas.

A featurette called Together Again: A Peanuts Voice Cast Reunion runs nine minutes, 49 seconds. It provides notes from producer Lee Mendelson and actors Peter Robbins, Sally Dryer, Chris DeFaria, Jason Mendelson, Hilary Momberger, Robin Kohn Glazer, and Gabrielle DeFaria Ritter. We learn a little about casting the child actors, their experiences, and their current lives. “Together” zips through its subjects pretty quickly, and I’d like it to run a little longer; it would’ve been nice to see the whole Comic Con panel. Nonetheless, it’s a lot of fun to catch up with the former child actors.

A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown and It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. The disc also includes a trailer for Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird.

While Snoopy’s Reunion comes with a cute premise, it suffers from lousy execution. Bland to the point of anonymity, the show seems dumbed down for a very young audience and never feels much like part of the Peanuts universe. The DVD provides good picture, decent audio, and some minor supplements. I can’t complain about this disc, but the main program fails to enchant or entertain.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1.4 Stars Number of Votes: 10
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