Western Animation / Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown


Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown is a 1977 animated film directed by Bill Meléndez. It is the third of the feature-length movies based on the Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schulz.

The Peanuts gang head off to Camp Remote in the Rocky Mountains, where they ultimately compete in a river rafting race downriver against a group of bullies who cheat every step of the way.

Their camp life is much like boot camp sans drill instructor, with very early morning exercise followed by a chow line and then activities culminating with the river race with some pretty treacherous obstacles. Peppermint Patty is in charge of the girls' raft and has the drive to be leader, though every little decision is met with a vote, no matter how petty. Charlie Brown heads the boys' raft and slowly but surely finds he must take leadership if either team is going to win.

Known mostly as the most action-filled Peanuts adventure, with some scary kids' stuff, like being separated in the wild and the many hazards kids alone in the woods along a river would face. It was also one of the first videodiscs released in the early 1980s, though it took until 2014 for the film to make it onto DVD.

Voice Cast

  • Bill Meléndez - Snoopy
  • Loretta Longnote  - Woodstock
  • Duncan Watson - Charlie Brown
  • Kirk Jue - Bully
  • Greg Felton - Schroeder/Camp Announcer
  • Jordan Warren - Bully
  • Stuart Brotman - Peppermint Patty
  • Jimmy Ahrens - Marcie
  • Gail Davis - Sally Brown
  • Melanie Kohn - Lucy van Pelt
  • Liam Martin - Linus van Pelt
  • Tom Muller - Franklin/Bully
  • Jackson Beck - Evil Cat

Race for Your Tropes, Charlie Brown:

  • Adults Are Useless: Aside from an unseen bus driver and radio reporter, there are no adults at all. Wonder whether the kids planned the dangerous raft race.
    • Not only that, but the fact that the bullies' cheating never gets them in trouble proves either this trope or the fact that there are no adults at the camp, or no kind of rules enforcement (unless the bullies themselves have assumed that role).
    • Maybe the main adult who runs the camp is the father of a bully.
  • Artistic License Physics: Rafts going high-speed down a slide wouldn't suddenly stop on a dime atop a waterwheel.
    • And if they did, the kids would not still be inside as it stopped...
  • Beware the Nice Ones/Big Brother Instinct: Snoopy finally takes on Brutus when the latter threatens Woodstock. This is after spending the entire film being terrified of the cat; Snoopy couldn't defend himself, but he could defend his best buddy.
  • The Big Race: The raft race takes up about 70% of the movie's time.
  • Black Comedy: As always, in Peanuts style.
  • Boot Camp Episode: The early camp scenes.
  • The Bully: A whole gang of them (including a bully cat) serve as the movie's antagonists.
  • Call-Back: When the girls see that it has snowed outside, Lucy thinks about getting a Christmas tree "painted pink".
  • Captain Obvious: From the theme song:
    When the sun sets down
    It is gone, Charlie Brown
  • Catch-22 Dilemma: Discussed during the initial organization of the girls' tent in a "democratic fashion". Peppermint Patty wants to prepare ballots, but the girls have to decide first on who passes out ballots.
    Lucy Van Pelt: Wait a minute! You can't vote unless we have ballots!
    Marcie: If we can't vote to see who will pass the ballots, how can we have ballots to vote?
  • Cats Are Mean: Brutus is a prime example.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Played With. The boys are forced to build their own raft out of tire tubes and sticks. The girls get an inflatable raft. The bullies' raft is a streamlined pontoon boat with not only all kinds of directional gear, but an outboard motor. Everyone's raft is wrecked by the time they get within sight of the finish line, but the bullies are still in the lead, so their cat slashes up the rafts that try to pass them. The cat gets the boys' and the girls' rafts, but when the cat tries to take a swipe at Woodstock's, Snoopy beats him up, leaving the bird as the winner.
  • The Chew Toy: Short of finding the cabin, the whole Peanuts gang in this one, really.
  • Collective Groan: Many times in the movie.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: The Peanuts gang face some pretty ugly opposition downriver, with the waterfalls and the construction site among the bigger ones. A few more feet and the Peanuts gang could have been killed. And the river race is a yearly event!
  • Creative Closing Credits: A very psychedelic one as Charlie Brown has to hitch a ride with Snoopy on his motorcycle after missing the camp bus (again).
  • Dark Horse Victory: Neither the bullies nor the Peanuts gang win the race. Not even Snoopy wins; it's actually Woodstock who wins. Didn't see that one coming, did you?
  • Darker and Edgier: The scarier moments of this movie push it into this territory and make it a little harsher than other Peanuts entries. The only animated TV special that comes close is What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Snoopy on his motorcycle when Charlie Brown needs to hitch a ride.
  • Free-Range Children: The Peanuts gang, despite being between the ages of 6 and 8, survive being alone in the woods with no adults.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Snoopy comes into the girls' tent to kiss them all good night. When he jumps on Peppermint Patty's waterbed, the resulting waves send both Patty and Snoopy bouncing uncontrollably, making a great deal of noise.
    Marcie: Sir, you're making too much noise. Can't you just kiss him good night and let it go at that?
  • Hostile Weather: The characters are beset by a sudden, violent rainstorm on the river and by an overnight snowstorm in the mountains.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Peppermint Patty and her ballots. When Charlie Brown protests that the girls unanimously voted to throw the boys out of the cabin, she yells at him because he "doesn't believe in democracy." Note that they didn't give the boys a chance to vote and they'd found the cabin in the first place.
    • Before that, Schroeder asks Charlie Brown where he could pack his piano on the raft, and Linus says they don't have room for something impractical for a raft race. Schroeder calls him out on this, saying if he thinks so, the maybe he shouldn't pack his blanket either. Linus quickly points out a space for the piano.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Linus uses his blanket as a whip to fend off the bullies with high proficiency.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: The poster doesn't lie.
  • Instant Wristwatch: During the blasting scene.
  • Jerkass: The bullies, definitely, with Lucy and Peppermint Patty to a lesser extent than usual.
    • Also the girls as a group for keeping the boys out of the cabin.
  • Kids' Wilderness Epic: Charlie Brown learns some leadership skills and gets some self-confidence after leading the team home.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The waterfall near the end of the race. Snoopy and Woodstock drop safely without even going underwater, and Charlie Brown and everyone in the girls' raft simply end up underwater for a few seconds before resurfacing. The bullies also end up going down, but they resurface only to wreck their boat on top of a huge rock.
  • The Last Straw: Snoopy and Woodstock slip down a cliff while in the woods. Snoopy manages to save himself by grabbing a hold of a tire hanging from a branch. When Woodstock perches on the tire, their combined weight causes it to fall.
  • Leaf Boat: Woodstock constructs one.
  • Logo Joke: The Paramount "Blue Mountain" logo is shown on a pink background. On the 1996 VHS, however, the "receded" variant is shown instead.
  • New Sound Album: This was the first Peanuts animated work made after the death of Vince Guaraldi. Ed Bogas (who'd previously worked with Ralph Bakshi) took over the music and brought a contemporary sound that was much different from Guaraldi's familiar jazz styling.
  • Newscaster Cameo: Real life San Francisco TV anchor Fred Van Amburg does the voice of the radio announcer.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The boys invite the girls into the cabin and are promptly kicked out.
  • No Name Given: The bullies have no names and are often just referred to as such. That or villains.
  • One-Note Cook: Once again, Charlie Brown treats everyone to his specialty: cold cereal.
  • Road Sign Reversal: The bullies do this during the raft race to lure the other kids into a river channel where construction blasting is scheduled.
  • Schmuck Bait: Sort of.
  • Shout-Out: Snoopy's Captain America bike.
    • While declaring herself leader of the girls' team (after a questionable voting process), Peppermint Patty flashes a Nixon-style "V for victory" sign with her fingers.
    • At one point Peppermint Patty angrily tells Charlie Brown, "Another fine mess you've gotten us into!"
  • Straw Feminist/Boys Have Cooties: The fact that Peppermint Patty and the other girls never give the boys a chance to vote and always rule against them in their "elections" could be taken as this.
  • Summer Campy
  • Talk to the Fist: Near the end, Snoopy punches out Brutus when he tried to attack Woodstock.
  • Token Minority: Franklin. He has few lines in the movie before the race and isn't on the cover of the recent artwork for the movie since he basically gets forgotten about.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Peppermint Patty always had a rather big Innocently Insensitive streak, but in this movie crosses the line to full-blown Jerkass, especially in the cabin scenes.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Snoopy with his sweet motorcycle, enormous pop-up sail, and (ridiculously expensive back in '77) portable TV in his own tent.
  • X Must Not Win: Where X equals who else? Charlie Brown; his team is set to win the river race, but the girls get a little excited and knock the boys out of the raft before they can cross the finish line. Snoopy? The bullies sabotage his boat, allowing Woodstock to win.
  • You Bastard: The audience, after really enjoying the good clean fun of a dangerous raft race with kids not even 10, even if it's a cartoon.