Oddly enough, the songs are the only memorable parts of Annie, the lavish 1982 John Huston musical. Six-year-olds who see the movie now are sure to disagree, which is the way it should be.
The movie (adapted from the hit Broadway play) details the story of a 10-year-old, fiery-mopped orphan (Aileen Quinn, who has since slipped into obscurity) who is adopted by crotchety Depression Era billionaire Albert Warbucks (Albert Finney) as a publicity stunt. However, the girl wins his way into everyone's heart -- including FDR -- and eventually finds happiness.
Kids are going to really enjoy this, as it's tailor-made for them. Adults are going to be in a stickier situation. Outside of Carol Burnett's terrific performance as the abusive, gin-swilling orphanage head Miss Hannigan, and Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters as her scheming partners, there won't be a lot to sustain their interest.
Carol Sobieski's script is a big part of the problem, as it exists solely to steer the movie into the next musical number. The dialogue doesn't complement the movie the way great musicals do. All of the character's emotions get expressed via song, which prohibits the actors (except natural performers Burnett, Curry, and Peters) from reaching a comfort zone.
For those shady characters the snappy tunes soften their edges. But everyone else comes across like toe-tapping, bellowing zombies. There's no time for the actors to make the characters come alive, so everything feels really hollow and mechanical about halfway through. The heavy dose of music also completely cuts right through the emotional center of the movie, so we never feel any sparks between Annie and Warbucks or between Warbucks and his statuesque assistant (Ann Reinking, two years removed from the disturbing All That Jazz).
But believe me, there are worse ways to entertain your kids for two hours. They're sure to identify with Annie's spunk and be fascinated by her story. What kid doesn't want a cool dog and to live in a mansion crammed with luxuries and with dancing, caring adults? The songs really are memorable and visually, there's a lot to get their attention. In short, the little ones have a movie to call their own. As for the parents, they can be content with Chicago.
Feel free to add two stars to my rating, boys and girls.
Run time: 127 mins
In Theaters: Friday 18th June 1982
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Production compaines: Overbrook Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE)
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 12
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: John Huston
Producer: Ray Stark
Screenwriter: Carol Sobieski
Starring: Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie, Jamie Foxx as Benjamin Stacks, Rose Byrne as Grace, Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Nash, Stephanie Kurtzuba as Ms. Kovacevik, David Zayas as Lou, Amanda Troya as Pepper
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