Many people of the latest generation just are not fond of dolls. Dolls have gained a reputation for being ominous and foreboding, with creepy smiles and endless stares. However, this is only seen in the horror genre of movies. Rarely are dolls seen in any other form of light when it comes to cinema. If there are any recent mainstream productions that come to mind, majority would likely recollect Toy Story (1995), which involved dolls / toys. Even then, there were some dolls that were portrayed in a relatively grim and unsettling light. Yet for some reason, not enough youth know of Raggedy Ann and her brother Andy. Created by Johnny Gruelle for a series of children's books, would become a timeless piece in history. Then in one of the biggest years of the 20th century, Raggedy Ann would receive her first animated feature in 1977. The weird thing is for anyone who has seen it; people only call it a “trippy film”. Is it really that seizure inducing? There really is more to look at here because it's not all LSD and flashing lights.
|"Not sure if I should laugh or flee in terror...."|
Interestingly enough, the introduction of Raggedy Ann and friends starts out a lot like Toy Story (1995). Immediately when Ann's owner Marcella (Claire Williams) leaves the vicinity, all the toys and dolls come to life. Written by Patricia Thackray and Max Wilk, two people who didn't have much experience with theatrical cinema are perhaps why the story doesn't have much priority in the running time. It's Marcella's birthday and she receives a new doll named Babette (Niki Flacks) who is then greeted by Raggedy Ann (Didi Conn), her brother Andy (Mark Baker) and several other side characters. However Babette thinks she doesn't belong because of her class (which is a pricey doll), but is soon snagged by The Captain (George S. Irving). The Captain's reason for taking Babette hostage was for being in love, but it's up to Raggedy Ann and Andy to save Babette. On their travels, they make friends with The Camel (Fred Stuthman) and run into more characters that pose as obstacles.
It is this part of the movie that serves no purpose. Originally what looked like might be a Toy Story (1995) movie, ends up having an Alice in Wonderland (1951) twist. It really doesn't further the plot any. Adding to that are the strange character motivations that just bring up further questions than resolutions. The Camel continues to be in some kind of a hallucinogenic trance to find his way home and is never explained why. Apparently Raggedy Ann has a "candy heart" but that doesn't change how problems are solved. Babette has strange opinions on whatever situation she's in, which conflicts with her development and the same could be said for The Captain. There's also an individual named King Koo Koo (Marty Brill) who looks to increase his height by laughing but can only do so by laughing at others. He too has no significance. Plus, there is no translation of these characters when the story focuses on the world Marcella lives in. What were they in reality? Obviously The Camel was real, but what about everyone else?
This is what undoubtedly brings the viewing experience down, but it isn't entirely a waste. In fact, there is an indefinite amount of things to admire. Directing this feature was Richard Williams; a two time Oscar winner for animated films, one of which being Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). He also headed The Princess and the Cobbler (1993), which people feel is another underrated gem. With that said, the animation being the late 1970s looks fantastic and will surely engage its audience and not just because how strange some of the characters move. Unfortunately that's why people call it "trippy" but that's what gives its characters personality. The most creative animated sequence should go to when Ann and Andy meet The Greedy (Joe Silver), a gluttonous sludge creature who indulges on sweets. The way the character moves is so elaborate that it can be quite overwhelming to think of just how much time and effort when into actually making that scene work the way it did.
This animated feature of the popular children's doll should not be seen just because past viewers have called it "trippy". The story lacks in clarity on several subtopics but the music is enjoyable, the animation is unique and the voice cast performs well. There are things to like about it no matter how flawed it may be.
Points Earned --> 6:10