Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977) / Animation-Family
MPAA Rated: G, suitable for all audiences
Running Time: 75 min.
Cast (voices): Duncan Watson, Stuart Brotman, Gail Davis, Liam Martin, Melanie Kohn, Greg Felton, Kirk Jue, Bill Melendez
Director: Bill Melendez, Phil Roman
Screenplay: Charles M. Schulz
The gang are all sent to summer camp, where they are rudely greeted by a group of competitive bullies and their maladjusted cat. One of the main activities of their stay comes in the form of a river-rafting race, pitting our happy-go-lucky crew against the ruthless and conniving gang of brats that will do anything to secure a victory.
Charles M. Schulz's most beloved creation gets their third big screen feature-length adventure, except this time, it would have been better served to keep it as a half hour TV special instead. Even at only 75 minutes, Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown feels padded, especially during the prolonged race sequence, which takes up well over half of the total running time with mostly needless pit stops along the way. While it is impossible to not like these characters, there really isn't much here other than to capitalize on their popularity, never really teaching any valuable life lesson or even entertaining with clever dialogue or situations.
There are some bizarre twists and turns, and many of them make little sense (for instance, how often does it really snow at summer camp? Is there anyone monitoring these children?) The animation is bland and redundant, not really any better than the quality of the television specials.
Indiscriminating young children may give this their vote, but parents will most likely choose to veto this anemic, poorly developed effort, unless they are nostalgic for something they watched as youths.
-- Preceded by A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969), Snoopy Come Home (1972), and followed by Bon Voyage Charlie Brown (1980)
©2005 Vince Leo