Raggedy Ann & Andy – A Musical Adventure | Animated and Underrated
For those of you who watch the Nostalgia Critic, you may have seen this film oddly pop up in one of his “Top 11” countdowns; appropriately enough, in his “Top 11 Nostalgic Mindf–ks.” Because this movie does have some of the trippiest footage you will ever see. (Though, it has nothing on the next film I’ll talk about.)
Anyway, I’ll start by saying that…this movie is not all that bad.
Maybe it’s just me, and that could very well be the case, but I actually found this to be a charming little piece of animation history. And it’s charming for a few reasons:
1. I like the design of the whole picture. The movie works a little like the original “Winnie the Pooh” films by Disney. It stars out in a little girl’s room, in live-action, and then transitions into an animated world to make the toys and dolls come to life. Which means this is also a Proto-“Toy Story” kind of film. Then again, there were tons of living-toy stories, cartoons, and movies throughout the last century. But I like the way they did it here none-the-less.
2. The animation on Raggedy Ann, as well as Andy is unbelievably cute. I just love her eyes, the way her mouth moves, her floppy body and her poofy outfit. It’s just such an adorable character from both the point of her being a doll and of her being roughly 18, I would suspect. So since I am 19 myself (at least at the time I am writing this), you could say I have a small crush on her. But I have these little crushes on many fine animated females. And I’m sure we all have at some point.
3. Some of the songs are not that bad.
Granted there are a CRAP TON of them, lasting 3 minutes each and roughly coming in every other 5 minutes, one after another. But a few are fairly tolerable. One in particular, is the song “Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers,” which happens while Raggedy and Andrew are walking through the dark forest on their way to save Babette: the brand-new French Doll that arrived for the little girl, who owns all the toys, for her birthday.
Now this song is nice because it’s a true and honest song; showing the love and faithfulness that Andrew has for his sister: which I believe to be a very sweet sentiment. I too have a lot of love for my sister. We certainly don’t get along as well as Raggedy and Andrew, but we have our moments.
I also appreciate this song because it’s one of the only songs that doesn’t sound bad vocally. The voice actress for Raggedy; while having a very unique and enjoyable speaking voice (kind of a Tom-boyish, Rainbow Dash sort of sound. And yes, I am a Brony), does not have the best of all singing voices. The actor playing Andrew, however, has a very strong singing voice. And so when these two sing this song together, you can get past Raggedy’s short comings and just revel in their family bond.
The other song that is marginally tolerable is Raggedy Andrew’s solo song, entitled “I’m No Girl’s Toy:” which is interestingly styled as a 1940s/1950s jazz hit.
The rest of the songs either last too long, are overly generic (utilizing every single cliche word in the song writer’s dictionary), and/or are badly sung.
The visuals for this film are quite unique, and a little jarring; going from pasty yet well defined bedroom locale to a spooky high contrast forest, and then into a world of crazy laughing nutballs where there’s nothing but empty blackness. The spatial representation of sky, ground, and any discernible walls are never the same throughout the film.
Oh! sorry for sounding a little too technical there, but it’s all quite true. The backgrounds are very inconsistent with each other, and you never quite know where you’re going, or better yet, where they’re going.
At one point we’re in the middle of a forest, then we somehow end up in a Candy Land. But you never notice because the backgrounds are so lightly painted and all in blue-tones. You have to look real hard to actually tell “oh, there are candy-canes and ice-cream cones there!” But the fact that we are in a candy land is quickly made apparent when the characters fall into a gelatinous pit full of candy and sludge. It’s…honestly one of the more disgusting things I’ve seen if film. I’d give props to the animator who had to create the constantly shape-shifting create that is “The Greedy;” a large amorphous blob man that is constantly eating…well…himself, and really anything that falls into him from the Candy Land up above. His song is one of the bad ones.
One interesting thing to note, is that if you are familiar with that Top 11 episode of the Nostalgia Critic that I mentioned earlier, you probably also know that Richard Williams is the guy that directed this movie, and he also directed “The Thief and the Cobbler;” something else the Nostalgia Critic reviewed. Well it turns out that while I was watching the second half of “Raggedy Ann and Andy…” a sequence popped up where the siblings and their blue camel friend are sliding around on an ever winding spiral stair-case, while being chased by a wacky knight. If you had recently seen either the movie or the review of “The Thief and the Cobbler,” you should recognize this scene because it’s almost the exact same animation that was used in a scene where the Cobbler chases the Thief in the palace along giant winding stair-cases. There are some differences though, the version in the Cobbler film is much more dynamic and exciting, while the version in Raggedy Ann is more stiff and stilted; leading me to believe that Richard Williams took the animation from Raggedy and simply redid some of it to improve it, kept other parts, and then inserted it into his own film to save some effort.
So after watching this film once, for the first time ever, I can honestly say that I enjoyed myself, and had a few laughs; for the good and the bad about this film. Like I said, it is charming, if you can pick up on what I thought was charming about it.
And if I were to put it on a 1/10 scale, I’d give it a 7 for good honest effort.
This is also one of the only films in history where the Animators are topped billed in the opening credits instead of any of the actors. Not even the voice actress of Raggedy or Andrew are mentioned in the opening credits. And each credit is carefully laid out in specially designed text and artwork to show who animated what characters. Quite a strange way to open a movie of this type.
Anyways, if you haven’t seen this movie, look around and check it out when you can. I promise, if you are a student of animation, you will get a retro high from watching this gem from the late 70s.
Next up, I’m going to talk about 1966’s “The Yellow Submarine”