The Raisins are having a tough time. In fact, you could say they’re all dried- up. The hits have stopped coming, and the fun has done a fast fade. What are the wrinkled ones to do? In Sold Out! they fire their hapless manager, Rudy Bagaman, and replace him with the wildly successful Leonard Limabean, who then directs them to give up R&B for trendier music. The Raisins do indeed make a comeback, performing such oddities as disco polka, country rap, and demolition rock (in which, like the Who’s Pete Townshend 20 years ago, they destroy their instruments onstage). So far, so good — but there are lessons to be learned about friendship, too. They’re provided when Limabean, in a wicked ruse, gets one member, A.C., to leave the group (”I’ll probably end up face down in an oatmeal cookie,” A.C. laments). The remaining Raisins discover they are lonely without him — and that selling out has a steep price.
The characters (vegetables as well as raisins) are animated clay figures, and their faces have a fascinatingly expressive, rubbery look. ”They’re sooo weird,” says my 6-year-old. But the music — including ”Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours,” ”R.E.S.P.E.C.T.,” and ”I Heard It Through the Grapevine” — lacks soul, and much of the dialogue is flat.
Sold Out! was first shown in prime-time on CBS, but it’s a lot like traditional Saturday-morning cartoon fare: harmless, but not especially enriching. C+