Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977)

“I’m just a little rag doll with a candy heart…”

Raggedy Ann Poster

Synopsis:
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”.

Genres:

Review:
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
    Raggedy Ann Greedy
  • Some bizarrely campy sequences – including the Camel’s hallucinations
    Raggedy Ann Camel

Must See?
No; despite its cult status, this one isn’t must-see viewing (though it’s worth a look).

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One Response to “Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977)”

  1. First viewing. A must.

    …but only because this has got to be what I would call ‘The WTF Find of the Year’!

    Since I’d done no research on this title – ever – I could only think prior that it was an innocuous little kids’ musical.

    WRONG!!!

    In the ‘Unknown Movies’ section of the website http://www.badmovieplanet.com, Keith Bailey has written a rather scathing (and lengthy) review of this…uh, film, and lists the many reasons why he feels it’s more or less unwatchable.

    But, as for me, once I got beyond the opening live-action sequence, I was more or less…agog! I did not want to pause for a second to even visit the little boys’ room – nor do I think I particularly wanted the…uh, film to end.

    Because I simply could not believe my eyes or ears.

    Not that I’m calling it camp. No, this one gets its very own category – one I still don’t know quite what to call.

    In the opening credits, the animators are treated as the stars, and we learn who supervised the creation of which characters. Certainly this is one of the oddest draws of the…uh, film itself, as it thus loses an overall uniform look and, instead, takes on an appearance slightly more schizophrenic from the get-go. It’s as if the many colorful personalities of Sybil each had a day job as animator.

    Oddly, tho, it works. Well, because the whole…uh, film is nothing but odd.

    The story…well, ‘coherent’ is not how one would describe it. You’ll likely ‘survive’ the…uh, film without having any clue as to what it was about.

    Like that matters!

    You just won’t want to say you’ve never seen this. If necessary, strap yourself in like Malcolm McDowell in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and just…a-b-s-o-r-b it. Breathe it in! (That said, I still don’t think I’ve quite absorbed the whole Kookoo Land section. Maybe there’s a built-in, delayed effect there.)

    As for the songs…I don’t think I remembered a single one afterwards but, while watching, I didn’t find them particularly off-putting. If I had to pick one as a ‘standout’ it would probably be the Camel’s song ‘Blue’, which I actually found moving. The first time.

    And then, yes, there are the marionette twins. If you ask me, far from being “obnoxious”, I was riveted by them. I wanted them to have their own song! While not unlike The Supremes without Diana Ross, their brief appearances suggest back-up singers off meds.

    I may have more to say about this one at some point. After I’ve seen it again. And, yes, I will see it again at some point. Not soon. I don’t think I’d be quite…prepared…to see it again anytime soon.

    But you can bet I’ll go back!

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