Annie (1982)

Annie ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: John Huston Cast: Albert FinneyCarol BurnettAnn Reinking, Tim Curry, Aileen Quinn

I must have seen this film more times than I wish to admit, but what better excuse to re-watch it with my son than its 40th anniversary?

Back in 1982 “Annie” was pretty much slashed to pieces by the critics, panned as a “a sluggish, stage-bound mess of an adaptation” and pretty much ignored by the audiences. Musicals rarely set the box office on fire, as even Spielberg’s West Side Story proved last year.

Today, possibly riding on that sense of nostalgia for everything that’s 80s, the film seems to have gained a bit of a forgotten-cult status. And why not? After all this is the work of a master director, John Huston, so it can’t be that bad. He did his best to infuse excitement, colour and verve into what is, let’s face it, a pretty straight forward script, with not a lot of surprises.

Along the way, there are some rather brilliant musical numbers: “It’s a hard knock life and “I think I’m gonna like it here” for example, with their large number of singers and dancer perfectly choreographed within massive sets, really give that glitz, shine and spectacle that only Hollywood can give.

But yes, there are also some pretty weak ones too, where it feels like Huston not quite knowing what to, let the camera running, and the actors doing their bit.

I remember as a child being a bit bored during some of the numbers. Indeed the pacing seems to be a bit off for what’s really a family film.

Having said that, all the actors (Albert Finney and Tim Curry among them) are at the top of their games, particularly Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan, who’s clearly having the time of her life here and manages to make her baddie so incredibly vicious that it’s impossible not to enjoy her presence and at the end (SPOILER ALERT, but I mean, the film 40 years old!!), when she’s forgiven, we’re all much happier for it.

A weak link for me, has always been little Aileen Quinn in the titular role of Annie. I’ve always found her, incredibly annoying: she always knows what to do, what to say, she’s good at everything… Hard to really feel sorry or root for somebody like this (except at the very end, in the only scene where she is actually in peril). But obviously she can sing and dance pretty well, and she does look the part, which is probably why she was cast.

Anyway, as a family fair, it’s a perfectly watchable one. Your kids will enjoy it and by the time it’s all over you’ll be sweapt away by its feel-good vibe and you’ll be shamely signing along “Tomorrow… Tomorrow, it’s only a daaaaay aaaaawaaaaay”.

Annie is available to rent/buy on all the major streaming platform (Amazon, Apple+, Google Play, Youtube)

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