DVD Review HTF Review: A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Snoopy Come Home

Discussion in 'DVD' started by PatWahlquist, Mar 27, 2006.

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  1. PatWahlquist

    PatWahlquist Supporting Actor

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    A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Snoopy Come Home

    Studio: Paramount Home Video
    Year: 2006 (1969 and 1972 Releases)
    Rated: G
    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 enhanced for 16x9 displays (see Video section)
    Audio: English DD 5.1 on “ABNCB”; English stereo on “SCH”
    Subtitles: English; Spanish
    Time: A Boy Named Charlie Brown: 86 minutes; Snoopy Come Home: 80 minutes
    Disc Format: DVD-9
    Case Style: Keep case
    DVD Release Date: March 28, 2006

    Since these two releases are coming out at the same time and combined they total 166 minutes, I chose to combine the reviews.

    Charlie Brown is the eternal loser that resides in all of us. He has issues with flying a kite (his smart ass dog can even do it better), he keeps getting his clothes knocked off by baseballs, the girls thinks he’s fat, and his psychologist is a sadomasochist. For good ol’ Charlie Brown, nothing comes easy. In “A Boy Named Charlie Brown”, Charlie finally finds something he can do: spell. He takes this ability on the road to the spelling bee accompanied by his friends, all of whom have their own individual issues (fear of loss, separation anxiety, performance anxiety, group mentality, etc.). Charlie Brown maintains hope even when everyone is against him, and he should be a model to us all.

    Snoopy takes the spotlight in “Snoopy Come Home”. When he arrives home late one night from the beach, Charlie Brown becomes irritated. He goes to feed his dog and when he cuts his finger, Charlie Brown expresses his dismay at Snoopy’s recent independent streak. Snoopy ignores him and promptly returns to the beach with Peppermint Patty to find a no dogs allowed sign. When Snoopy goes to the library, he finds the same sign adding to his frustration. Snoopy receives a mysterious and distressing letter from a little girl in the hospital, Lila, so he and Woodstock head off to see her. Along the way they are caught by another little girl and subjected to various humiliations, such as dress up. Once Snoopy reunites with Lila, we find out about Snoopy’s past, and he is confronted with a big decision. I suggest you keep the Kleenex handy for the last fifteen minutes of the film as we see Snoopy make agonizing and potentially life changing decisions.

    I have not seen these pictures since I was a kid, so looking at them with an adult eye was, well, eye opening. I was instantly transfixed by the underlying psychological issues; they seem so blatant now even while they are cleverly hidden in these rudimentary cartoons. At the same time, it was a welcome return to my childhood where I could look at them through the lens of innocence. For those of you who want to see where Peanuts began, Fantagraphics is doing an exceptional reprint series of the original strips.

    The pictures utilize a stylized form of animation that was common for the time, with sidetracks into musical numbers and imaginative flights of fancy. Director Bill Melendez also uses split screen effects to great effect, such as when Snoopy dreams of being a fighter pilot while his sleeping form lays on his doghouse.



    Video:
    Both DVD’s provide us with an anamorphic image. However, I have to question the aspect ratio. The baseball scene at the beginning of “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” and Snoopy’s letter to the editor in “Snoopy Come Home” seems to be cut off, and there are several other scenes that look like they have been squeezed in. The bright, animated color detail is good but it tends to stray towards red in many scenes. There is also minor color bleeding in some scenes. Characters skin tones go from pink to almost brown depending on the scene. There is noticeable film dirt throughout the pictures and I saw some darkening of a couple scenes at the beginning of “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” when Charlie Brown is trying to fly his kite. “Snoopy Come Home” suffers from very noticeable video noise and compression artifacts. Even sitting back thirteen feet from the screen it was still noticeable. Blacks are suitably deep and there is some edge enhancement.

    Audio:
    I watched “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” with the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. It is a fair presentation, but it does not utilize the extra channels for much. Most of the audio stays in the center and it occasionally spreads out to open up the sound field. The soundtrack is clear and I did not notice any hiss or noise. LFE is barely utilized, usually coming up during the musical numbers that have lower chords or a standing bass. The stereo track (the only one provided) on “Snoopy Come Home” shares the same traits of the audio of “A Boy Named Charlie Brown”.

    Bonus Material:
    There are no bonus materials on either release.

    Conclusions:
    After a long wait, CBS and Paramount have begun releasing their Peanuts library on DVD. Unfortunately, we are given discs that are apparently misframed, show noticeable dirt and noise in the picture and lack any extras. I hope the studios decide to take future “Peanuts” releases more serious. Still, these are classic stories that should be shared by young and old alike.
     
  2. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Producer

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    Hmm. I'm pleasantly surprised that Paramount released these in their original theatrical ratio and anamorphic. I wasn't expecting that much effort. But its a shame if they did botch the ratio somehow. Hopefully they didn't zoom in on a TV Print.
     
  3. Steven Wesley

    Steven Wesley Second Unit

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    This explanation from Scott's Peanuts Animation and Video Page might add more insight on the aspect ratio issue.
     
  4. Andy_Dursin

    Andy_Dursin Extra

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    Great review Pat and I would agree with your assessment.

    I got the distinct impression the ratios are not zoomed in, but simply over-matted...most of the image looks fine but there's no question the top of the frame is being clipped and it's evident throughout both movies.

    If you look at the full-screen versions there are various details in the animation that are being eliminated at the top of the frame...I can't imagine you'd call that "dead space" (the way some movies are opened up from 1.85 for 1.33) since it begs the question why they would bother animating in that area to begin with.

    Other than that Paramount did a nice job with these releases...
     
  5. RomanSohor

    RomanSohor Second Unit

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    I guess it was either animated with the intend that the full frame would be shown repeatedly on TV, or perhaps was initially intended for 1.33:1 showings theatrically but some studios "suits" thought it would be cool to have it widescreen.
     
  6. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I just got A Boy Named Charlie Brown out of nostalgia (loved it as a child). It's still a fantastic movie - not to mention it has some neat animation for a low-budget effort. The film is 1.75:1 (slight pillarboxing) and the end credits are windowboxed to 1.50:1. Despite being windowboxed, they're protected for 1.85:1 (using STMPE specs). Other than a handful of tight shots, it's clearly correctly framed. However, it's important to know that it was shot open matte with TV screenings in mind.

    Considering the low-budget nature, Paramount really did a great job on the transfer. The avg. bitrate is even 6.58 mbps. It looks like some shots are from separation masters since there's color fringing... still, besides some grain and some random dirt/scratches, it's a great transfer. One brief shot seems to have some DVNR artifacting (a quick pan from Charlie Brown to Schroder in the baseball scene), but I didn't spot anything else from a quick scan. In fact, I think most of the visible dirt is from the photography. I like how Paramount made it totally uncut - down to the Cinema Center Films logo.

    Here's a few screenshots...

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  7. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    I just finished watching the first one and I can tell you that, while not unflawed, I have not seen a better looking version of the film.

    The 5.1 sound is okay (the film was mono originally), but I doubt they had music session stems to go back to.
     
  8. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

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    I'm excited to get these. "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" is the earliest film I can recall seeing in a theater. Since it was released in December of '69, I would have seen it in 1970, at the age of four or five (not sure... my birthday is in June), at the Midway Drive-In in Kent, Washington.

    I remember my mom made me put my pajamas on before we left, because she figured I'd fall asleep before we got home and she didn't want to have to get me undressed.

    EDIT: Good grief! I just found out they're razing the Midway Drive-in to make way for a Loew's store! It may have already been done. It hasn't functioned as a drive-in for years... just a large flea market. But the drive-in screen still stood, still visible on Google Earth as "Midway Swap & Shop" in Kent, WA. The screen is in the southeast corner of the lot... you can even see the letters on the side! Check it out before it's gone. [​IMG]
     
  9. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

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    Picked up Snoopy Come Home, and the title sequences are presented full frame within the anamorphic 16:9 area. Anyone with a 4:3 televison will therefore see a windowboxed credit sequence. It's just as well, over-matting them would have cut off valuable credit info, which by contract must be made available on all video releases, regardless of P&S or Widescreen format.

    Nice presentation, too. Well composed within the requirements for 1:85:1 or 16:9. Gotta love the late Thurl Ravenscroft - "No Dogs Allowed" - I forgot he had such a low baritone register.
     
  10. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    What a great review and discussion!

    [​IMG]

    While I have VOWED not to continue to invest in SD-DVD while I wait for Blu-ray...these are two DVDs I just might have to buy. Patrick...your screen shots are welcome. It looks to my eyes that there is some slight pillarboxing...not quite 1.66:1 but not full 1.78:1 either.

    Patrick,

    I noticed what looks like dot-crawl in that first screen shot with the blue screen and projector graphic...do you see it? Did paramount have film source material to work from or did they upconvert a composite video master to 16x9???

    [​IMG]



    I cried and I cried and I cried. I can't wait to cry again!

    dave [​IMG]
     
  11. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    It sort of looks like dot crawl, but it's also a bit grainy. The rest of the film lacks it, so who knows? If the logo was on older videos, maybe they had to take it from an old master if it wasn't on the new print.

    Also, let me repeat... the closing titles are windowboxed, but still 1.85:1-safe. They probably went with windowboxing since it's not visible until the last card. Really neat closing, though. I forgot how awesome the animation is.
     
  12. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    Snoopy Come Home is waaaay too depressing- I can handle Schindler's List or Platoon, but not this. Already have the old laserdisc anyways.

    Boy Named Charlie Brown is a trip though- CBS used to show this every year but each time they'd cut a little more out of it to make room for more commercials, until the last time they ran it they had it in a 1-hour slot with commercials, and just about all the songs were cut out!
     
  13. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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    [​IMG] Whenever our parents piled me & my brothers into the station wagon to go to a drive-in back in the 60s we always had to get into our PJs as well. Good times...

    I saw ABNCB on its original release as well (I was 12). I was (and remain) a huge "Peanuts" fan. I still have the original soundtrack album (vinyl, of course). I haven't seen the film in decades, but it still sticks in the memory. I ordered these from DVD Empire (only $9.32 apiece) and wish they'd hurry up and get here!!
     

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