Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin Review

Connie Queline

Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin Review

In Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin, a new kid, moves to town and attempts to make friends with the classic Peanuts gang.

Plot: Franklin Anderson struggles to make new friends when he moves to a new state (possibly Minneapolis). However, after meeting Charlie Brown and entering a soap box derby race, Franklin learns valuable lessons about friendship and how winning isn’t everything.

Review: Moving to a new town is especially difficult when you’re a kid. In addition to being a social disadvantage in a school setting, your after-school playtime quickly becomes an exercise in manifesting imaginary friends. For Franklin Anderson, being popular was never an option. His dad moves around a lot, so Franklin jumps from one state to the next, living out of a suitcase and never settling in one place long enough to make honest-to-goodness friends. This pattern is about to change when he meets the Peanuts gang and learns that the traditional methods of making friends sometimes don’t apply.

Back in my day, we had specials like A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969), Snoopy Come Home (1972), It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966), A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), and more to keep us connected with the Peanuts gang. Today, Raymond S. Persi directs Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin as part of Apple TV+‘s revival of Peanuts cartoon specials, released during Black History Month, and focusing on one of the gang’s black characters, and one who’s never gotten his moment in the spotlight, Franklin.

Right out of the gate, I’ll say Welcome Home, Franklin looks incredible! Thanks to the film’s 2D presentation, the special harkens back to more traditional animation methods. Immediately, the overall look of the film blew me away. In all my time reviewing animation for JoBlo, I’d never seen something look this good on my monitor. The vibrant colors pop off the screen, with dynamic lighting effects lending depth and atmosphere to the world. There’s a particular moment in the film when Franklin and Charlie Brown walk past a fence speckled with sunlight that had me rewinding the scene multiple times to bask in the beauty of the art. It’s nice to see Apple taking so much care with the Peanuts property, presenting the classic characters created by Charles M. Schulz in a way that demands your attention and warmly hugs your senses.

In addition to telling a touching tale about fostering new friendships, the film takes time to explore some of Franklin’s interests, including his love of Jazz and baseball and members of his family tree. By the movie’s end, he’s still a supporting character, but he’s given depth and feels like a more valued member of the Peanuts cast.

Throughout the film, Franklin attempts to make friends with A-tier members of the Peanuts gang, including the blanket-hugging Linus Van Pelt, the borderline villainous Lucille “Lucy” Van Pelt, and Snoopy, the beloved beagle who thinks he’s people. When Franklin’s attempts to appeal to the Van Pelt siblings fail, he stumbles upon Charlie Brown, the flagship human and emotional punching bag of the Peanuts crew. Without hesitation, Charlie Brown extends a hand of friendship to Franklin and invites him to be his partner for an upcoming soap box derby race. They view the race as an opportunity to make their mark in a town of talented kids, and the pressure of winning gets the better of them. Their bosom-buddy chemistry devolves, leaving them at odds and desperate to mend the rift. Their divide adds intense drama to an otherwise light-hearted story, with valuable lessons about acceptance abound.

Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin explores the complicated emotions that come with feeling othered by your peers and surroundings. The film treats its young audience respectfully by making Franklin’s plight simple yet nuanced enough to deliver a powerful message about friendship, patience, and tolerance. As an adult fan of the Peanuts gang, I loved reuniting with Charlie Brown and the rest of the kids. As I’d said, Schulz’s Peanuts never looked this good, and the poignant storytelling that made the classic animations so impactful exists here, too. Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin shines in its blending of nostalgia and animation that always stays in style.

8

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