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Broadway musical based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip. A young orphan girls adventures in finding a family that will take her.
For more about Annie and the Annie Blu-ray release, see Annie Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 2, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: John Huston (I)
Writer: Carol Sobieski
Starring: Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters, Ann Reinking, Aileen Quinn
» See full cast & crew
Annie Blu-ray Review
Don't wait until "Tomorrow" to watch "Annie" on Blu-ray!
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 2, 2012
I think I'm gonna like it here.
"Keep it simple" seems to be the mantra behind the lovingly crafted, beautifully performed, and heartwarming Annie, Director John Huston's (The African Queen) goodnatured 1982 Musical, inspired by the early 1900s comic strip and subsequent radio, film, and Broadway productions. The story of a poor orphan girl warming the heart of a hard-nosed billionaire doesn't cave to needless flamboyancy even through its well-staged musical numbers. The film goes big only when necessary and remains true to the basic narrative and straightforward themes of love, decency, acceptance, and family, never veering from its principles whether in the darkest corners of the run-down orphanage or the most resplendent halls of Daddy Warbucks' mansion. Annie weaves together its story through great performances and catchy musical numbers that convey feelings of hope, high spirits, tenderness, and togetherness. It's a film fit for all ages, a classic tale of dreams coming true and the power of resiliency and positive thinking even in the midst of great personal, economic, and situational despair.
Annie (Aileen Quinn) is a depression-era orphan at the Hudson Street Home For Girls. She longs for her parents' return; they left her half of a locket that she hopes to one day reunite with its missing piece. In the meantime, she cares for her fellow underprivileged orphans and stands up to local bullies. She has a big heart and a million-dollar smile. The orphanage's supervisor, the perpetually drunk Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett), doesn't care for Annie's optimistic view of life and constant upbeat attitude; she discourages singing, imposes strict rules, and forces hard work out of every orphan. One day, Grace Farrell (Ann Reinking), personal secretary to billionaire "Daddy" Warbucks (Albert Finney), recruits Annie to spend a week at her boss' palatial estate to be a part of a publicity photo shoot. Warbucks wanted to host a boy, but Annie quickly wiggles her way into his heart. Has she finally found a home? Meanwhile, Miss Hannigan, her conniving brother Rooster (Tim Curry), and his girlfriend Lily (Bernadette Peters) scheme to get Annie back and earn a slice of the Warbucks fortune.
Annie may not be the quintessential Musical in most eyes; it tends to get lost in the shuffle of genre classics such as The Sound of Music and West Side Story, a shame because John Huston's film is as heartwarming and tender as any other, perhaps not as big or widely acclaimed as its elder peers but certainly as catchy and meaningful in the best of ways. The picture oozes heart and honesty. It's an uplifting experience that demonstrates the qualities of a good life, namely the importance of love and family and hope. In fact, there may not be a more hopeful movie than Annie or a more positive song than "Tomorrow." It's the film's finest number and an anthem for the power of positive thinking and the importance of looking ahead to a brighter future, not decaying in an unacceptable or unwanted present or past. The entire movie revels in the notion of better things to come and does so through the dichotomy at film's center, the contrast between a big heart and a big bank account. Annie is hopeful for a better day in which she is loved as strongly as she loves others. Miss Hannigan, on the other hand, dreams only of dollar signs. The contrast between the fundamental hopes and dreams set the characters apart and sets the stage for the dynamic in which Annie and her pure heart inch towards everything she ever wanted and, quite possibly, everything Miss Hannigan ever wanted, too, while the orphanage supervisor wallows in misery and schemes to get what her black heart craves, eschewing all the good qualities that lead Annie towards a better life. The movie clearly differentiates between dreams of inner wealth and outer wealth, championing the importance of the former in building a quality life but also praising the latter given that it's defined by good deeds rather than greed.
Annie is made better by several fabulous performances and superb production values. Actress Aileen Quinn lights up the screen with a huge smile and an evident tenderness in every shot. She is Annie right down to the last freckle and strand of curly hair, each syllable and every musical note she sings. Few actors so effortlessly become a character; Quinn is one such performer who completely dazzles in her work, who seems almost magically cast in a role she was born to play. She understands the essence of the character and the meaning of the film with such uncanny perfection that the picture would undoubtedly suffer with another in the lead. Albert Finney plays Daddy Warbucks with equal power and grace, business acumen and inner tenderness. His growing fondness and, ultimately, love for Annie comes quickly, as quickly as Annie grows on audiences, thanks largely to a great script and two dazzling performances defined by a unique chemistry that shines through in every scene. Lastly, Carol Burnett finds an unbeatable cadence for the inwardly depressed and outwardly hateful Miss Hannigan as the perfect foil to Annie's upbeat spirit and unbreakable hopefulness. Burnett's cadence is remarkably strong and consistent as she lets loose her frustrations on the children and schemes with Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters to ruin Annie and make some bread in the process. Annie also does well in contrasting the dreary orphanage and the elegant mansion, making neither so downtrodden or resplendent as to distract from the story but just enough to highlight the outward differences and further emphasize Annie's inward beauty and ability to maintain focus on innocence and purity rather than her physical whereabouts or, in a more generalized sense, place in life.
Annie Blu-ray, Video Quality
Annie makes its Blu-ray debut with a faithful, but never flashy, 1080p transfer. The image is fairly soft in many places, occasionally flat, and never brilliantly colored. However, it's sturdy and consistent if nothing else. The image features a fair bit of film grain, not overwhelming but easily visible in most scenes. Detail ranges from average to near excellent. The sharper scenes -- particularly those in the second act when the action shifts to Daddy Warbucks' palatial estate -- deliver some stable, crisp textures around the home's interiors and exteriors alike. Facial and clothing close-ups are never extensively revealing, but the image captures well-defined lines where necessary and critical. Colors lack brilliance; the image has a slightly dim, somewhat worn-down and occasionally depressed appearance, notably in those dreary and very flat and dark orphanage interiors. Even in brighter scenes, the most brilliant reds (Annie's dress, for instance) don't pop off the screen, but longtime Annie fans will appreciate the stability and internet accuracy of the palette. Black levels are quite good but not particularly dazzling in the film's bookends, the dark opening orphanage scene and the end nighttime chase. On the flip side, flesh tones appear even, never drifting too far towards either an unnaturally pale or excessively red/orange shading. There's a bit of noise in spots but no excess blocking, banding, edge enhancement, or other unwanted image-destorying uglies of note. Overall, this is a very nice transfer. It's not modern-flashy, ultra-bright, or razor-sharp, but it does appear faithful and true to the source.
Annie Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Annie features a good, not great, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Music is the highlight, and the track does dazzle in that department from the moment the Columbia Lady appears on-screen. The presentation is big, full, accurate, clear, and enveloping, with light but critical surround support and just the right amount of bass. The low end does get a little overly heavy at times, notably during the song and dance routine when Annie first arrives at the Warbucks mansion, but otherwise the musical numbers are quite splendid, sonically. Light ambience is audible in some busy city exteriors, though the track lacks sufficient realism and surround muscle to suck audiences into depression-era New York. What might have been the film's most potent sound effect -- the humming and heavy presence of the auto-copter -- instead plays depressingly weak and muffled, absent the sort of potency and big movie sound that would have greatly enhanced the scenes in which it appears, chiefly its arrival at the White House and its role in the third act chase sequence. Otherwise, the picture is largely dialogue-oriented. The spoken word is clear, precise, and center-focused, generally. There are a few instances of muffled speech, words coming across as shallow and detached. Such is the exception to the rule. As with the video presentation, Annie's soundtrack isn't dynamic or particularly memorable, but most of the tunes sound great and the other supportive elements rate as passable.
Annie Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Fans may be disappointed to learn that Annie's 30th anniversary Blu-ray debut doesn't contain more extras. This set's highlight is a short twentieth anniversary retrospective with Actress Aileen Quinn.
Annie Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Annie is the epitome of feel-good cinema. Its entire construction deals with positive thinking, love, family, friendship, and promoting the good in life while working through the bad and refusing to let negative circumstances stand in the way of a healthy outlook on life. It's a movie high in spirit and fit for the entire family. It's catchy and pleasant, filled with quality song and dance numbers. The performances are stellar even if the movie is shaped by rather simple and straightforward ideas. It's that adherence to simpleness and goodness that make the movie great and so incredibly sweet, one of the top musicals, and perhaps the finest "rainy day" picture of them all. Sony's Blu-ray release of Annie is disappointingly short on extras, but it does offer solid video and audio. Considering the quality of the film and Sony's low MSRP, this release comes highly recommended.
Annie: Other Editions
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Annie Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Annie Blu-ray - July 31, 2012
In the fall, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will bring Annie to Blu-ray. Director John Huston (The African Queen) helms this screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, which focuses on a young orphan girl (Aileen Quinn, Multiple Sarcasms) searching for her ...
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