Thursday, August 28, 2014

A visit to Planet Snoopy

I've got some more reviews on the way shortly, but I have to post a brief recap of a recent "adventure." 

Last month, I visited Kings Dominion with Rigby_Mel, my co-blogger at Holiday Film Reviews.  For those who don't know, Kings Dominion is a theme park located 20 miles north of Richmond,VA. It's a place we visited frequently when we were kids.

Kings Dominion is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.  The park has brought back many attractions that were part of our childhood, like the Singing Mushrooms.  Here's a video that features the Mushrooms:  

Since my last visit, they added a section to the park called Planet Snoopy!  While it's aimed at kids, this Charlie Brown fan had to check it out.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite rides at the park was the Scooby Doo Coaster.  Since KD no longer has an affiliation with Hanna-Barbera, it has been rechristend the Woodstock Express.

It's a nice "mid-tempo" rollercoaster, still as much fun as it was years ago.

We also checked out other rides, like the Flying Ace, which went up a lot higher off the ground than expected.

And we made a point of being photographed with a certain beagle, also known as "that funny looking kid who plays shortstop."

Left-to-right:Rigby_Mel, Snoopy and I.
And while I'm way to old for Snoopy's Moon Bounce, the giant Snoopy astronaut is pretty cool.

I am dwarfed by the giant Snoopy.
So if you're a Charlie Brown enthusiast, and you find yourself in the vicinity of Kings Dominion, a visit to Planet Snoopy promises fun for Peanuts fans of all ages.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

He's A Bully, Charlie Brown

 Charlie Brown:As soon as school is over, I have to go to camp for two weeks.  I don't really care about going to camp.  Besides, I get homesick.  I'm afraid, when I'm miles away from home, I'll miss my friends.
Lucy:What friends?!

Premiered November 20, 2006.

It's Summer and Charlie Brown (Spencer Robert Scott) and the gang are preparing to head off to camp.

But Chuck is nervous about going away for Summer Camp.  Peppermint Patty (Rory Thost) is jealous and disappointed, because she has to attend summer school and won't be joining them at camp.

Rerun Van Pelt (Jimmy Bennett) goes up to his family's attic and finds an old jar of marbles.  Upon further inspection, he learns the marbles belonged to his grandfather, Felix Van Pelt, who was a marbles champion.  Rerun takes the marbles with him to summer camp.  He hopes someone at camp will teach him how to play marbles.

Rerun takes the marbles with him to summer camp.  He hopes someone at camp will teach him how to play marbles.

Upon arrival at camp, Charlie Brown and Snoopy (Bill Melendez) encounter a boy named Joe Agate (Taylor Lautner). Chuck offers Joe a handshake, only to be smacked in the nose.

 Joe goes on to call Snoopy a "funny looking kid" and pinches the beagle's nose.  Snoopy responds by "accidentally" dropping a bowling ball on Joe's foot.

Rerun watches Joe playing marbles with another kid.  Agate easily beats his opponent and takes the kids marbles.  He introduces himself to Rerun and says he's been the marbles champion at camp for 3 years straight.

Back home, Peppermint Patty is angry about being left behind.  She is jealous of Charlie Brown and Marcie (Jessica Gordon) being at camp together.  When Peppermint Patty phones, they tease her by pretending to be getting "romantic" with each other.

Peppermint Patty is stuck at home & not amused by Marcie & Charlie Brown's reports from camp.
Later, Rerun meets with Joe and says he's there to "learn" how to play the game.  Agate acts like he's teaching the younger boy how to play marbles and wins the game easily.

Rerun says that he's ready to play, but Joe has other ideas.  He tells Rerun the game was "for keeps" and takes all of Rerun's marbles, even his grandfather's prized shooter.

Charlie Brown sees Rerun crying and asks what's wrong.  When he hears what happened, Chuck says that Joe has been picking on everyone and promises to win back Rerun's marbles.

But Charlie Brown has never won anything. Thankfully, Snoopy will coach him up and (hopefully) turn Chuck into a marbles champion.

Can Charlie Brown win back Rerun's marbles from Joe Agate?

As I write this He's a Bully, Charlie Brown is the 2nd to last Peanuts special produced.  It's based on a comic strip that ran in 1995 and the Peppermint Patty/Marcie subplot came from a 1989 strip. It shows that long after the "classic" era of Peanuts, Charlies Schulz' characters were still evolving.

  Maybe that's why some of the characters act "out of character", but that's okay.  Charlie Brown stands up to Joe Agate, I thought it was cool to see Chuck help Rerun and not act like his usual "wishy-washy" self.  It's also fun to see Marcie and Charlie Brown mess with Peppermint Patty.

A disguised Peppermint Patty sneaks into camp.
Bullying is a problem that lots of us have faced.  If I'd seen this as a kid, I would have identified with the kids who were picked on by Joe.  So in addition to being entertaining, this special could be used as an anti-bullying video.

Snoopy also gets a few funny scenes, skateboarding on a halfpipe...

 ...and building a totem pole with help from Woodstock and his friends.

It's also worth noting that this is the last Charlie Brown special produced by Lee Mendelson and directed by Bill Melendez, both of whom worked Peanuts specials for more than 40 years.  So He's A Bully marks the end of an era.

Charlie Brown tells Joe to "Knuckle Down!"
David Benoit arranges the music, most, if not all of it consists of Vince Guaraldi tunes.

The gang is worried about Charlie Brown's chances in the big marbles match.
 A note of trivia about the voice actors:

Joe Agate is voiced by Taylor Lautner, who went on to play Jacob in the Twilight movies.

This special can be found as a bonus feature on the You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown dvd.  It also streams on iTunes and Amazon.

He's A Bully, Charlie Brown is a solid special, that expresses a very important message.  But it's also funny and it's a nice farewell for Mendelson and Melendez. Recommended to fans of all ages.


3 and a half Sparkys.