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Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!) Review

Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!) (1980) movie poster Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!)

Theatrical Release: May 30, 1980 / Running Time: 76 Minutes / Rating: G

Director: Bill Melendez / Co-Director: Phil Roman / Writer: Charles M. Schulz

Voice Cast: Daniel Anderson (Linus van Pelt), Casey Carlson (Marcie), Patricia Patts (Peppermint Patty), Arrin Skelley (Charlie Brown), Annalisa Bortolin (Sally Brown), Scott Beach (Baron, Waiter, Driver, Tennis Announcer, English Voice, American Male), Debbie Muller (Stewardess), Laura Planting (Lucy van Pelt), Bill Melendez (Snoopy, Woodstock), Roseline Rubens (Violet Honfleur, Sophie), Pascale de Barolet (Pierre)

Buy Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!) from Amazon.com: DVD 2 Movie Holiday Gift Set

For better or more likely worse, Blue Sky Studios' upcoming The Peanuts Movie will almost certainly for the foreseeable future be what people think you're talking about when you bring up the subject of a Peanuts movie. But the animated universe adapted from Charles Schulz's popular and enduring comic strip made four previous appearances
in movie theaters from 1969 to 1980. The fourth of those and (for a few more weeks) most recent Peanuts theatrical film -- Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!) -- finally made its way to DVD this week from Paramount Home Entertainment, which held onto the films' video rights despite selling the TV specials and series to Warner.

Bon Voyage sees Charlie Brown, Linus, Peppermint Patty, and Marcy chosen to participate in a student exchange program through their respective elementary schools. The four friends head to Europe. Of course, Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy and his bird friend Woodstock join them there. The film begins as a good introduction to international airplane travel circa 1980. The gang encounters the same things we do when flying abroad now: metal detectors, in-flight entertainment and food, baggage claim, and on to customs. The process seems less intrusive and stressful than it does in our higher security present, but these are young children on an adventure not comics riffing on TSA.

Snoopy drives the gang's rented blue car around France in "Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!)"

In England, Snoopy and Woodstock sneak off to Wimbledon for some tennis. Following a reunion, the party takes a hovercraft to France, where they rent a blue car that Snoopy drives. The boys are assigned to stay in the gloomy Chateau of the Bad Neighbor, where they have to settle for sleeping in a stable during a storm. Meanwhile, the girls soon make friends with Pierre, a redheaded boy who works on the farm where they are staying. The kids attend school there and Peppermint Patty makes trouble for Charlie Brown, whom she is seated next to.

Even in feature film form, Peanuts stays pretty down to Earth and relaxed. A narrative comes to involve the bitter baron who owns the Chateau and shares a connection to Charlie Brown's grandfather. In the climax, the Chateau goes up in flames, which is quite possibly the Peanuts series at its most action-packed, suspenseful, and conventionally cinematic.

When in Wimbledon... Snoopy and Woodstock break off from the group to play some tennis.

Despite that final act, Bon Voyage falls in line with the franchise's half-hour specials and other films. It is a pleasant and easygoing diversion that demands little of viewers, whom it rewards with the wit and light character-driven comedy on which Schulz's multi-million dollar empire was built. Bon Voyage may not have the replay value or canonical significance that its chief competition, Disney's animated classics, continue to enjoy. Today's kids will probably prefer the CGI hijinks that Blue Sky has cooked up. But for those of us who grew up with these simply-drawn tales and were moved by their timeless poetry, classic Peanuts will never lose its appeal.

One of the film's most interesting creative choices is the decision to feature portraits of crew members alongside their names in the closing credits.

Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!) DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital Mono 2.0 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Closed Captioned; Featurette Subtitled
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $14.98
Red Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Previously released on VHS (October 1, 1996)

VIDEO and AUDIO

Bon Voyage has taken so long to come to DVD that it arrives at a time when it's strange to encounter a DVD-only catalog release. But that's what it is, since Paramount apparently did not see the value in a Blu-ray edition despite their and the rest of the industry's preference for that format and the seemingly endless commercial viability of Schulz's brand (which was sold in 2010 along with some less consistently profitable comic characters like Dilbert for $175 million). The DVD's 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen picture looks pretty good for standard definition. The backgrounds are clean and vibrant and the only shortcoming is occasional blurriness, most noticed in "tracking" shots.

The DVD's 2.0 monaural soundtrack gets the job done, with the basic recordings remaining crisp and easily understood.

Peanuts historian Charles Solomon is among those putting "Bon Voyage" into context in the new featurette "Travels with Charlie." Though unmentioned on the case, the original theatrical trailer for "Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!)" is kindly included here.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Paramount has basically stopped putting any bonus features on new films' DVDs. Fortunately, Bon Voyage is not a new film and Paramount has treated it to not one but two extras, each presented in 16:9 widescreen.

First and more significant is "Travels with Charlie: The Making of Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown" (20:22), a brand new retrospective featurette.
It gathers insight into the film with interviews of Charles Schulz himself (via archival clips), his widow Jean Schulz, producer Lee Mendelson, director's son Steven Melendez, and Peanuts historians Charles Solomon and Nat Gertler. They discuss the real experiences that Schulz drew from for this movie and certain features that distinguish this production from other Peanuts works and other entertainment. It's a really solid inclusion.

Though unmentioned on the case, the disc also includes the film's original theatrical trailer (2:29), which is narrated by Lucy for some reason.

The 16:9 menus are static and silent, employing the white and red design of Paramount's Peanuts Movies brand and utilizing character head silhouettes as cursors.

Like other recent releases from this subuniverse, Paramount packages the plain gray DVD in a red keepcase and tops it with an embossed cardboard slipcover.

International blockhead: Charlie Brown struggles to get a baguette through a French bakery's door.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

As beloved and rewatchable as a number of the Peanuts animated TV specials are, the franchise's theatrical feature films have kind of faded into obscurity mostly due to years of unavailability on DVD. Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown finally makes it to the format and feels like it should have gotten a Blu-ray release at the same time.
This basic but fine presentation seemingly could have arrived fifteen years ago. At least Paramount makes sure the disc looks and sounds good by 2015's higher standards and gives us a new making-of featurette to make us forgive the long wait. You'd think a Blu-ray couldn't be far off, but then you might have thought the same about a DVD back when Schulz was still alive. While the four charming if slightly forgettable movies do seem perfectly suited for a wallet-friendly two-disc collection, there is nothing to suggest there are plans for that. At the moment, it's not even cost-effective to pick up this forthcoming 2 Movie Holiday Gift Set resembling the Double Feature that Snoopy, Come Home and A Boy Named Charlie Brown have shared since 2011.

Buy Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!) at Amazon.com: DVD / 2 Movie Gift Set

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Reviewed October 7, 2015.



Text copyright 2015 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1980 Paramount Pictures and United Feature Syndicate, Inc. and 2015 Paramount Home Entertainment.
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