Utter joy is what I felt when I first learned there was a feature length Charlie Brown cartoon, and it would soon air on CBS. What I didn't know was the traumatizing effect it would have on me as a child. One might assume it was Snoopy leaving Charlie Brown to live with his previous owner, Lila, that disturbed me, but that event was only a drop in the bucket of despair that is SNOOPY COME HOME.
Let us begin with the discrimination and prejudice endured by Snoopy. Right from the beginning of the film, Snoopy is cast out of all his favorite spots simply because he is a dog. A familiar deep voice (THURL RAVENSCROFT) sings, "No Dogs Allowed!" throughout the film. Even Woodstock is not immune to these senseless acts of bigotry. At the beach, library, bus, hospital, and apartment complex Snoopy is deemed unworthy.
Next, we are introduced to a future serial killer. As Snoopy and Woodstock are making their journey, they encounter a seemingly harmless little girl. The soon find, however, she is not harmless at all. Before you can say Lizzie Borden, Snoopy has a thick rope tied around his neck, and Woodstock is shoved into a cage. This diabolical girl likes her victims clean, so she proceeds to almost drown poor Snoopy in the tub. Her next step is to dress her victim, and play tea party where she purposely spills tea then blames Snoopy. She puts Snoopy across her knee and spanks him. This is truly twisted stuff. Snoopy makes a break for it and attempts to call for help. Unfortunately, she retches the phone from his paw and drags him to the local vet. Luckily, Snoopy escapes the vet's office and rushes back to the crime scene to help Woodstock get away. Nail-biting action ensues as the psychopath chases Snoopy and Woodstock through the house of horrors. In the end, Snoopy and Woodstock barely escape with their lives. I find it interesting psycho-girl keeps calling to her mother about her new pets, but there is no reply. My theory is the mother has already been dispatched PSYCHO-style by this miniature serial killer in the making.
The final death nail, for me, was the going away bash held for Snoopy after he announced his plans to live permanently with his former owner, Lila. When even Lucy begins crying over Snoopy's imminent departure you know it is for real. I cannot recall if I made it through the entire going away party before slipping off to my bedroom to sob uncontrollably. Once again, as she always did, my mother came looking for me. She encouraged me to return for the rest of the movie. Happily, I returned just in time to see Snoopy come home to Charlie Brown.
Many years later, I shared this film with my niece. I wondered if I had been a total wimp when I had watched the movie as a child. I soon found my niece had an almost identical reaction to the movie. I, like my mother, had to coax her into finishing the movie.