You probably have to be dotty to be bothered that a cartoon movie about two rag dolls isn't faithful to the original.
And you'd also have to think carefully - the original what? Well, in this case, the original rag dolls.
"Raggedy Ann & Andy," the new animated musical film playing at suburban theaters, fulfills what most adults seem to except from entertainment suitable for a family outing or for parking children while adults do errands. It isn't sexually explicit, or implicit, for that matter. It isn't violent. It makes sweet statements in favor of friendship. It is pretty. It is tuneful.
Are you going to ask for plot and characterization, too? What do kids know about such things? Or cars?
The plot of this film is a vague chase, peopled by formless villains - some literally formless, which is visually confusing to very small children. It takes those Johnny Gruelle Raggedy Ann book plots, which are mightly mild in the adventure department, and gives them a slight shove in the direction of the Saturday morning television theme.
It's not the sort of thing that has the child asking questions afterwards about why people do what they do, but it's prefectly adequate. And if dolls are made exactly so that children can use them to make up their own stories, certainly that liberty ought to be allowed to adult screen-writers.
But if children did not know and care about character, Raggedy Ann and Andy, two homely, simple, oldfashioned dolls, would not have survived the modern toy competition. New fancy and ingenious of dolls appear on the market every Christmas and every Christmas, thousands upon thousands of Raggedy ann and Andy dolls - over two million since 1919 - are sold.
Each has a heat that says on it "I love you." But you don't have to be old enough to read to understand that the dolls represent acceptance, cheerful dignity, and companionship. They are soft to hold, and made to last, because the parts are all repairable and replaceable. They are with the child all the way.
The Raggedy Andy of this film protests indignantly against being owned by a girl. "Forget it, sweetie", is just one of the lines he sings to exhibit his disgust.
The film's Raggedy Ann simpers up to the newest, most expensive doll in the nursery, with the obsequious observation that "Golly, this is too good to be true, a little rag dolly plain as me, has a friend as lovely as you."
The true drama of Raggedy Ann and Andy is that a child who owns one will drag it around everywhere by the foot, then covet something more splendid, such as a bride doll or an action figure, and then, when the childish going gets rough, take the rag doll back to heart and bed.
Would you get this reaction to a Raggedy ann who toadied to the upper classes? Or a smarty-pants Raggedy Andy who rejected his owner? No - and that's what's unbearable about this film.