Our Film Review:
If you’ve not seen Annie already, shame on you. If you’ve not heard of any of the songs, where have you been?
Musicals can often be love them or hate them productions, but there are some that everyone seems to love, some that span generations continuing to charm and excite everyone as they hear a few bars of the main songs. Annie is one of those musicals.
Growing up in a house with two younger sisters and only one TV we often felt like little orphan Annie, it really was the hard knock life having to lose every argument about what we’d watch on another rainy day during the school holidays. We’d always lose and Annie was one of the movies of choice that we’d have to endure as our sisters belted out the songs drowning out the actual cast.
At the time we can’t deny we did love the movie too, despite our grumbles, and as we grew up it was clear how much everyone else did, too. We were still a little surprised when Jay-Z sampled ‘It’s the Hard Knock Life’, one of the film’s signature songs, but then how many girls, now grown up, sung out loud on the dance floor every time the DJ put the track on, showing that Annie really was a film that every child growing up in the 80′s had seen.
So what of the story? Well it’s 1930s New York, the depression has hit hard and Annie (Aileen Quinn), with her bright ginger hair and slightly annoying positivity, is living in an orphanage run by the alcoholic and mean Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett). Annie and her friends dream of a day when their families will finally come and collect them and take them away from poverty so they can live happily ever after. They sing, they dance and they find a dog called Sandy who also gets his own chorus style number spontaneously sung about him.
Annie’s life takes a turn for the better though when wealthy industrialist Oliver Warbucks (Albert Finney) offers to look after an orphan for a short time. He chooses Annie and she quickly melts his heart and offers to help find her real parents. A big reward is raised and the desperate people of New York try and con their way to the money but none get close until Miss Hannigan’s conman brother, Rooster (Tim Curry) and his heartless wife Lily (Bernadette Peters) manage to use Annie’s back story to convince Warbucks that they are Annie’s parents.
We won’t spoil the end of the film for those of you who haven’t seen it, again shame on you, but this is a Broadway musical and it’s likely that there will be a happy ending.
Big name actors also add their talent to the overall feel and quality of the film. Finney plays grumpy Warbucks brilliantly and the audience do find themselves feeling sorry for Carol Burnett’s Miss Hannigan as she clearly is a victim too, but many also seem to forget that Tim Curry adds a brilliant touch of showmanship to the film performing, in our opinion, one of his best characters (Dr. Frank-N-Furter aside).
Musicals tend to have to hit the audience well with two things. Of course, the usual things movies fans look for must be spot-on but the songs must also be exceptional to ensure the audience is happy. Annie succeeds on both counts. There are classics like ‘It’s the Hard Knock Life’ and ‘Tomorrow’ that everyone remembers but ‘Sandy’, ‘Easy Street’ and ‘You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile’ are songs that also bring smiles to our faces and, with the new sing-along version, even if it’s been a few years since you saw it last, you can sing along to your heart’s content. While you may not be as angelic as Annie herself, at least you’ll know the words.
The sing-a-long options are always a safe bet on re-releases of musicals but Blu-Ray and DVD extras on re-releases are never going to blow anyone away. 3/5