You may be surprised to find something that is ostensibly a kids' movie on a list of “scariest things,” but that is only if you have not seen it. As I've gotten older and am better able to grasp the concepts presented, the movie only gets more terrifying. Do not let its “G” rating fool you; it is an acid-fueled existential nightmare that leaves you with an overwhelming sense of ennui.
Toys coming alive when they are alone is a common staple of both children's and horror genres. In this movie, when the toys' owner appears in her play room, the film is live action, but as soon as she leaves, the world dissolves into a cartoon. In another context that could be charming, but in an attempt to design characters that would work in either world, they failed at both. To make matters worse, each of the characters have different animators, so there is no consistency in the art style. The film cannot even bother to be a cohesive nightmare; various pieces are jammed together to create the Frankenstein's monster of cartoons.
Even if the animation did't make it feel as though every character walked in from a different drug trip, they would still be the most terrifying toys put to film. In addition to Raggedy Ann (who - let's be honest - there is no way it is a coincidence that they made a movie about a Raggedy Ann doll coming to life several years after news broke of the Annabelle doll) and Andy, there are:
- An anthropomorphic pincushion… because every normal child has a toy pincushion.
- Creepy twins that do not speak but sing in unison. Yes, this is a musical; however, they sing when there is not a song playing. Even when they only have a one-line response, it is sung.
- A Mr. Fixit type who repairs the broken toys. He is not so much a toy as he is a toolbox on a wheel. Similar to Mr. Potato Head, he stores the tools inside himself, and he accesses them through his skull. He also has excess limbs: four arms and two legs (which are superfluous, since he propels himself by a large wheel).
- What can only be described as a pillow with arms and a face hastily sewn on.
- A blue (literally and figuratively) camel. He makes Eeyore look like the life of the party. He is old, worn out, and keeps talking about “chasing after the camels that make up the caravan in the sky.” As a kid, I was not fully able to understand that this was just a thinly veiled attempt at introducing children to the concept of suicide. It left me confused… as opposed to now, when I am confused as to why it is played off as just a silly character quirk.
- A sex-crazed pirate who lives in a snow globe. His nose is incredibly phallic, and his mustache grows with his excitement; there is no subtlety here.
- And finally, a Parisian doll who is kidnapped by the pirate and sets off this whole adventure.
Raggedy Ann and Andy encounter several threats on their quest to save the doll and cross paths with the Greedy, a gelatinous candy creature who lives in a taffy pit and has an insatiable appetite for sweets. Self-cannibalism may be considered too intense for your average kids' movie, but this one goes even further when the Greedy inexplicably comes to the conclusion that the one way to end his hunger is to rip out Raggedy Ann's heart and eat it. This is where the movie transcends genres and sheds the facade of a children's movie to become pure horror.
After escaping the Greedy, they find themselves in Looney Land: a place full of strange characters and wacky contraptions. It is ruled by the third villain of the movie, King Koo Koo (which is some uncomfortable alliteration), who has a Napoleon complex and needs to laugh at others to feel big. Literally, random parts of his body expand and distort while he laughs at people.
At this point, the movie remembers that the plot is supposed to be about the kidnapped doll, so they flee while he is caught in a laughing fit to once again search for the pirate. While they were busy with those other villains, the doll led a mutiny on the ship, where she is now in charge and the captain is imprisoned. You might think, “Maybe there is some message here about female empowerment due to her fighting her own battles,” but you would be wrong. She suddenly sees the good in the sex-crazed pirate and falls for him, so they all return home.
They are welcomed back by the toys who stayed behind. They offer to repair the old camel but are stopped by Raggedy Ann who says that he is fine just the way he is—revealing that she was the real villain all along who just wants to control a depressed camel through Munchausen by proxy. I guess that would make the Greedy the tragic hero of this story.