Review – Annie
Director: John Huston
Starring: Aileen Quinn, Albert Finney, Carol Burnett
Once in a very great while a movie comes along and knocks you off your feet. Maybe you didn’t know what it would be like and it totally surprised you. Or maybe you were ready to hate it and it just blew you away. Or maybe you had watched it as a child and had forgotten all about it. Annie, for me, did all these things, staggering me with a brilliance that I was in no way prepared for.
Based on the hit Broadway play that was itself based on the comic strip ‘Little Orphan Annie’, this spunky musical takes audiences on a wild ride through Depression-era New York City. Aileen Quinn plays the title character, who, stuck in a horrible orphanage run by Carol Burnett (Mama’s Family, Noises Off), still believes that someday her parents will come for her. When eccentric billionaire Albert Finney (Big Fish, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead) asks for an orphan to stay with him as a publicity stunt, everyone’s lives are turned upside down. Complete with lavish costumes, musical numbers, FDR, and bomb-throwing Bolsheviks, Annie is a high-flying theatrical extravaganza.
It would be an understatement to say that this movie surprised me; I was floored. After seeing it when I was young and then completely forgetting about it, I was not at all prepared for how wonderful it would be or how much it would impress me. The comic acting by Burnett and Finney was outstanding. The representation of the 1930s in the costumes, the set, and the dialogue was spot-on. And the music; wow. Most people can hum a few bars of ‘Tomorrow’ but they don’t realize how amazing and near-perfect a song it is. Other numbers, like ‘Maybe’, ‘Hard-Knock Life’, and ‘Little Girls’ are nearly as excellent; full of feeling, hope, and humor.
If I was forced to find a flaw I might point to the main character. At eleven years old, Quinn was a complete unknown. With her giant red wig and her homely face, she was asked to melt the hearts of America. Well, perhaps she didn’t do that exactly, but what she did was give audiences a ragamuffin hero to root for and the film a reliable hub to work around. She added a little something to what would become an amazing, exciting, larger-than-life spectacle that will be loved forever. From top to bottom, Annie is nothing short of a musical masterpiece.
My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰