In Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown, the entire Peanuts gang (including Snoopy and Woodstock) go to camp for the summer and run afoul three bullies and a really mean cat. Along with all the other camp activities, there’s also a rafting race. With no adult supervision, the boys (led by Charlie Brown) end up one raft, the girls (led by Peppermint Patty) end up on another raft, Snoopy and Woodstock build their own raft, and the bullies try to sabotage the three other teams. While Charlie Brown tries to find his voice as a leader and Peppermint Patty runs her raft by having every decision determined by secret ballot, Snoopy and Woodstock explore the wilderness.
Though Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown was released theatrically in 1977, it was made by the same team responsible for the Charlie Brown TV specials and it feels more like an extended TV show than an actual movie. It’s still a cute production, though, especially if you’re already a fan of Peanuts. The animation is primitive by today’s standards but it has a retro appeal and Charlie Brown is as likable as he is wishy-washy. Not surprisingly, Snoopy and Woodstock are the film’s MVPs. From the minute that they drive up on their motorcycle, Snoopy and his friend steal the movie. Because it lacks both the spiritual and the philosophical themes that we usually associate with Peanuts, the movie’s not as memorable or poignant as the holiday specials and some of my favorite characters, like Linus and Lucy, don’t have much to do. I was especially disappointed that Lucy stayed in the background and let Peppermint Patty run the girl’s team. Whatever happened to the Lucy who could always convince Charlie Brown to kick the football?
In the end, the important thing is that the movie has a good message. Bullies are losers, nothing’s more important than friendship, and the best team wins.