“I’m just a little rag doll with a candy heart…”
When Raggedy Ann (Didi Conn) and her brother Andy (Mark Baker) set forth from their playroom in search of a French doll (Niki Flacks) kidnapped by a pirate (George S. Irving), they encounter a series of malcontented creatures — including a homesick camel (Fred Stuthman), an eternally hungry blob named The Greedy (Joe Silver), and a stature-sensitive king (Alan Sues) in search of “the last laugh”.
A critical and box-office failure upon its release, this animated musical — a clear thematic precursor to Pixar’s phenomenally successful Toy Story franchise — is undone by a roster of forgettable tunes and insipid lyrics (“All of us live in the nursery/All of us different as we can be”), sung by actors who struggle to carry a tune (though to her credit, Didi Conn had laryngitis during taping, and was apparently unhappy with the way her songs turned out). The animation — while inspired at times, particularly when The Greedy is on-screen (I was reminded of Miyazaki’s amorphous beheaded god in Princess Mononoke) — is mostly uneven, and often reminiscent of the quality of weekend television shows. Neither the cloyingly sweet Ann nor her brother Andy ever emerges as a fully developed character, and it’s hard to feel much motivation for Babette’s rescue, given that she’s clearly a spoiled diva and not really worthy of our sympathies.
With that said, adult viewers may be amused by the rather substantial undercurrent of “mature” themes hidden in the story and its characters — including the Pirate’s face-reddening and mustache erection whenever he thinks about Babette; Ann and Andy’s overly “friendly” sister-brother relationship (“Candy hearts and paper flowers/Will always keep me close to you”); Andy’s insistence that he’s “no girl’s toy”; and the Camel’s hilariously drug-like hallucinations. Indeed, many on IMDb’s message board for the movie have commented that it gave them nightmares as kids.
Note that you’re likely to either be completely annoyed or morbidly fascinated by the obnoxious “Penny” twins (Margery Gray and Lynne Stuart), who pop up as a freaky Greek Chorus every five minutes or so during the first portion of the film, but mercifully disappear once Ann and Andy are off on their adventure.
P.S. Though it’s not yet out on DVD, Raggedy Ann and Andy can be watched in installments on Google Video.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Cool animation of the Greedy
- Some bizarrely campy sequences – including the Camel’s hallucinations
No; despite its cult status, this one isn’t must-see viewing (though it’s worth a look).
Posted on April 25th, 2009 by admin
Filed under: Original Reviews