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Western Animation / Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown

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Your life is free as running water,
Fresh as morning dew
No matter who's the winner,
If you try, we're behind you, Charlie Brown!

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 M. Schulz.

This one follows the Peanuts gang as they head off to Camp Remote in the Rocky Mountains, where they find that their experience is much like boot camp sans drill instructor: crack-of-dawn exercise followed by a chow line and then a series of competitive activities, culminating in a river-rafting race which pits them all against some pretty treacherous obstacles, including a group of bullies who cheat every step of the way. Peppermint Patty is in charge of the girls' raft and has the drive to be leader (though every little decision, no matter how petty, is made with a vote), while Charlie Brown, who heads the boys' raft, slowly but surely comes to see that he must somehow take leadership if either team can hope to win against the bad guys. Meanwhile, Snoopy and Woodstock find themselves dealing with their own problems as per usual.

Known mainly for being the most action-filled Peanuts adventure, with some realistically scary-for-kids stuff like getting separated in the wild and coping with the many hazards that somebody left 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 - Brutus

Race for Your Tropes, Charlie Brown:

  • Adults Are Useless: 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).
  • 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: Snoopy finally takes on Brutus when the latter threatens Woodstock.
  • Big Ball of Violence: The bullies get into one while arguing about getting their raft off a rock. Even their cat gets involved.
  • The Big Race: The raft race takes up about 70% of the movie's time.
  • Big Brother Instinct: After spending the entire film being terrified of the cat, Snoopy couldn't defend himself, but he could defend his best buddy.
  • Black Comedy: As always, in Peanuts style.
  • Book Ends: In the beginning and at the end of the movie Charlie Brown gets left behind after the bus takes off and Snoopy gives him a ride on his motorcycle.
  • Boot Camp Episode: The early camp scenes.
  • The Bully: A whole gang of them (including a bully cat) serve as the movie's antagonists.
  • 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!
  • Conforming OOC Moment: When Snoopy comes into the cabin and kisses the girls goodnight, they all smile gratefully. Lucy is also smiling, even though any other time Snoopy kisses her, she starts freaking out.
  • Continuity Nod: When the girls see that it has snowed outside, Lucy thinks about getting a Christmas tree "painted pink".
  • 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).
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Snoopy is normally very laid back and avoids conflict, however, when Brutus threatens Woodstock he proceeds to deck the cat with a single punch.
  • 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!.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: 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?
  • 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.
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision:
    • After being separated from Woodstock, Snoopy almost initially continues on the race, only to return to shore and not leave his buddy behind.
    • The girls turning back to retrieve the boys near the finish line after they accidentally knock them all out of the raft in their excitement.
  • Graceful Loser: Touched upon. The bullies do say, "You got us, but just wait until next year!" giving no indication that they won't try to cheat their way to victory the next time too.
  • 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, then 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: Charlie Brown after Peppermint Patty asks him what time it is. It disappears just as quickly.
  • Jerkass:
    • The bullies for endlessly boasting about being number 1 while blatantly cheating and talking down to everyone else.
    • 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 only for the girls to kick them out.
  • No Name Given: The bullies have no names and are often just referred to as such. That or villains.
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now!: As the bullies come into view, they gloat about their impending victory, only for their raft to give out just short of the finish line.
  • Oh, Crap!: Charlie Brown when he realizes that it's practically 10:00 AM on a day when the construction blasting in the river channel they are floating through is supposed to start.
    Charlie Brown: That's right, today is Tuesday!
    Peppermint Patty: Chuck, what time is it?!
    Charlie Brown: It's almost-
    Charlie Brown: 10 AM!!!
  • One-Note Cook: Once again, Charlie Brown treats everyone to his specialty: cold cereal.
  • Papa Wolf: Snoopy becomes one to Woodstock, when he sees the latter threatened by Brutus.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite all of the trouble Peppermint Patty causes in this movie with her obsessive voting, she never considers not searching for Snoopy when he goes missing. All the girls also all vote for saving the boys without a single negative vote, Lucy included.
  • 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 is a reference to Easy Rider.
    • 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!", from the Laurel and Hardy catchphrase.
  • Summer Campy
  • Talk to the Fist: Near the end, Snoopy punches out Brutus when he tried to attack Woodstock.
  • There Are No Adults: Aside from an unseen bus driver and radio reporter, there are no adults at all. Wonder whether the kids planned the dangerous raft race.
  • Token Minority: Franklin. He has few lines in the movie before the race and isn't on the cover of the DVD releases 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, she crosses the line to full-blown Jerkass, especially in the cabin scenes.
  • Wacky Waterbed: Peppermint Patty gets to sleep on a waterbed as leader of the girls' group in a camp. Once she falls asleep, Snoopy enters the girls' tent to kiss the girls. 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 tries to help Peppermint Patty, but ends up getting in on the action. Snoopy then bounces out of the waterbed and returns to his tent, leaving Marcie and Peppermint Patty trapped.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It is noticeable that several other teams other than the main protagonists are in the race. But we don't ever see them finish.
  • 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.


Video Example(s):


Creative Charlie Brown Credits

Could the end credits for "Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown" get even more 1970s?

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / CreativeClosingCredits

Media sources: