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COLUMBIA TRISTAR

MOVIE INFO

Director:
John Huston
Cast:
Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters, Aileen Quinn, Geoffrey Holder
Writing Credits:
Thomas Meehan (play), Carol Sobieski (screenplay), Harold Gray (comic strip "Little Orphan Annie")

Tagline:
The movie of "Tomorrow".

Synopsis:
Annie is the story of a plucky, red-haired girl who dreams of life outside her dreary orphanage. One day, Annie (Aileen Quinn) is chosen to stay for one week with the famous billionaire "Daddy" Warbucks (Albert Finney). One week turns into many and the only person standing in the way of Annie's fun is Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett), the unpredictable ruler of the orphanage. Enjoy the zany adventures and experiences of the irrepressible Annie as she charms everyone she encounters, including Miss Hannigan.

Box Office:
Budget
$50 million.
Opening Weekend
$510.632 thousand on 14 screens.
Domestic Gross
$57.059 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Stereo 2.0
French Stereo 2.0
German Stereo 2.0
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian LCRS 4.0
Subtitles:
English
Arabic
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
French
German
Hindi
Italian
Japanese
Norwegian
Spanish
Swedish
Turkish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
German
Italian
Japanese
Spanish

Runtime: 127 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 10/2/2012

Bonus:
• “It’s a Hard-Knock Life” Music Video
• “The Age of Annie” Trivia Game
• “Sing Along with Annie” Subtitle Feature
• Act Along with Annie
• “My Hollywood Adventure with Aileen Quinn” Featurette
• Trailers and TV Spots
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Annie [Blu-Ray] (1982)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 25, 2012)

All of us have our regrets and can look back at parts of our lives and wonder, “What was I thinking?” Actually, that sentiment covers an awful lot of my life, but no aspect more so than the affection for musicals that I held when I was a kid.

By my 12th birthday in 1979, I’d seen the light and I turned toward the forces of good (music) forever - the Beatles saved me - but prior to that, my enjoyment of the era’s pop/rock tunes was mixed with fondness for then-current stage musicals. I went to see quite a few of these with my parents, and greatly enjoyed works like The Wiz

Annie - the musical adaptation of the Little Orphan Annie cartoon - was among my favorites. It’s hard to remember what an odd project this seemed to be at the time; nowadays everything is adapted into something or other, but I think a musical comic strip was pretty unique when Annie appeared in 1977.

The show clearly became a huge success and talk soon turned to the inevitable film version of the stage production. I’m sure this rendition seemed like a sure-fire hit, especially when the enormous popularity of 1978’s movie edition of Grease proved that musicals could still generate boffo box office.

Granted, any number of fairly-unsuccessful movie musicals - like 1978’s The Wiz - argued otherwise, but Annie started its journey to film and finally appeared in the summer of 1982. With legendary director John Huston at the reins and boasting a solid cast of professionals like Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters, Tim Curry, Ann Reinking and others, plus 10-year-old newcomer Aileen Quinn - the winner of a massive talent search - in the title role, how could it fail?

Pretty easily. The movie wasn’t a financial flop but it didn’t generate as much “buzz” as the producers hoped, and its $57 million gross was nothing to cause much excitement. In a busy summer - with much more successful films like ET the Extra-Terrestrial, Star Trek II and Poltergeist on screens - Annie came and went without much fuss.

30 years later, Annie seems just as limp and silly as it did in 1982. As is the case with many musicals, the storyline barely exists. We find Little Orphan Annie (Quinn) stuck in a New York City orphanage with a group of other cute young girls. Despite their bleak lives - they’re constantly hounded by nasty house mother Miss Hannigan (Burnett) - Annie maintains a consistently-cheery disposition and always feels certain that better times are right around the corner; she just knows that her parents will soon come and retrieve her from that nasty orphanage!

Some sunshine eventually enters her life when billionaire Oliver Warbucks (Finney) decides to host an orphan for a week as a PR stunt. His assistant Grace Farrell (Reinking) picks the irrepressible Annie, and she inevitably wins over gruff “Daddy” Warbucks and all of his staff - which apparently includes President Franklin Roosevelt (Edward Herrmann).

Warbucks decides to help Annie find her birth parents, but inevitably, scam artists arrive on the scene in the form of Hannigan, her brother Rooster (Curry), and his girlfriend Lily (Peters). Also inevitably, all ends well as the baddies are punished and Warbucks decides to adopt Annie.

While I generally try to avoid too much plot information because I hate to reveal “spoilers”, I took the chance here because - well, c’mon! It’s Annie! It’s not like I’m spilling the beans about The Crying Game or The Sixth Sense. The film features a simplistic plot that exists solely as an excuse to showcase some musical numbers.

And that it does, though I couldn’t stand a single tune heard in the movie. Bizarrely, the stage version’s most popular number - the dreadful and ubiquitous “Tomorrow” - loses its solo performance by Annie and is transformed into a sing-along for Annie, Warbucks, FDR and Eleanor! Huh? At least the filmmakers had the good taste to keep the president in his chair; it wouldn’t have surprised me to see them make FDR dance.

“Good taste” is a commodity in short supply through this nauseating film. I frequently had to fight the urge to slap myself; actually, I wanted to slap Quinn due to her disgustingly forced chipper and cute presence, but since that would be impossible, I wanted to hit myself instead.

Easily the least palatable scenes in the film are those in the orphanage; there we must confront a slew of precocious and “adorable” youngsters, not just one with a bad perm. I like kids a lot, but not these kinds of artificial show-biz creations who couldn’t take a breath without permission from their stage mothers.

One might think that the remainder of the cast would save the project, but they’re rendered impotent in the horrible face of it all. Nothing can negate a) the saccharine-sweet tunes, and b) those damned kids! None of the adults are bad, really - Finney even manages a couple of minor laughs - but they can’t overcome the untalented terror that is Aileen Quinn. They auditioned 8000 kids and she was the best they could do?!

Perhaps. I have to admit that Annie would have been a tough sell for me in any case. However, in my defense, I should relate that I’ve developed some grudging admiration for a few movie musicals. After all, I gave My Fair Lady and Chicago positive reviews, and I even liked parts of West Side Story and The Sound Of Music. Unfortunately, Annie never remotely approaches that level. John Huston isn’t exactly a name I associate with musicals; how he got wrapped up in this clunker is anybody’s case. Whatever the case, Annie is a perfectly dreadful dud.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

Annie appears in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was an inconsistent but usually positive presentation.

Sharpness seemed very good for the most part, but it varied. Most shows looked acceptably concise and distinctive. However, more than a few moderately soft images appeared. I suspect these issues stemmed from the source photography, but I couldn’t explain why the movie was so up and down. Still, a lot of the image looked pretty terrific.

I noticed no jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes were absent. I can’t believe noise reduction usage occurred here, as this was an often grainy image - really grainy at times. No print flaws materialized, as the movie stayed clean.

Colors were often strong. Due to all the grain, some elements could seem a bit flat, but most of the hues were lively and full. Blacks seemed deep and tight, while shadows appeared adequate; a few low-light shots were a little thick, but the majority demonstrated nice clarity. Despite all the inconsistencies, the presentation was generally good and deserved a “B”.

The film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundfield stuck largely to the forward channels for most of the movie. Not surprisingly, music dominated the mix, and the songs and score displayed positive stereo imaging throughout the film. I also heard a lot of good usage of effects from the side channels; these made the track more lively and engaging, and the sounds panned nicely from speaker to speaker. The surrounds largely restricted themselves to general support of the music; the rears offered reinforcement of the tunes but presented little other audio.

Sound quality seemed erratic but largely good for its era. Dialogue sometimes appeared a bit thin and reedy, and a little edginess occurred at times. Still, the speech was generally natural and distinct.

Effects were similarly bland at times, but they generally seemed acceptably accurate and clean. Some distortion occurred, but not much. Music varied a bit more. Music tended to be peppy and bright, with nice range. This wasn’t a killer mix but it worked fine for the movie.

How did this Blu-ray compare to the last DVD from 2004? The audio was a little more dynamic, especially in terms of the music; those elements came across as perkier here. The visuals were cleaner, tighter and more vivid. The Blu-ray also gave us the film’s original aspect ratio, dimensions that’d been MIA since the original DVD from 2000 went out of print. Consider this a notable upgrade.

Most of the extras from the last DVD repeat here. We launch with a music video from the teen pop group Play as they do their update on “It’s the Hard-Knock Life”. They do a dance pop rendition of the tune. The video alternates their dancing and lip-synching with movie clips. It’s a lifeless take on the song and a dull video. Too bad the disc didn’t include Jay Z’s “Hard Knock”, since it famously and creatively sampled the Annie track.

A retrospective featurette, My Hollywood Adventure with Aileen Quinn lasts 12 minutes and four seconds. We see and hear from an adult Quinn as she chats about her Annie experiences. She gets into her early interest in performing, her tests for the film and her casting, the production, and publicity stints. Some interesting archival bits pop up along the way; we see parts of Quinn’s screen test and her initial press conference.

Quinn divulges a few decent notes about the production as well, but mostly she just gives us a glossy and puffy chat about the flick. It’s not a terrible featurette, but it doesn’t seem terribly useful or informative. (By the way, Quinn still can’t act, but she’s kind of cute.)

Sing Along with Annie! provides a Karaoke feature. It allows you to select any of the movies songs individually or you can watch the whole movie with subtitles. If that sounds like fun, go for it.

Ads finish the set. We get two Trailers for Annie as well as three TV Spots. Under Previews, we find a clip for Arthur Christmas.

What does the Blu-ray lose from the last DVD? It drops a trivia game as well as a feature called “Act Along with Annie”. It also alters the “Sing Along” feature: the DVD offered fewer songs but allowed you to watch them without vocals, which isn’t an option here. Since the movie comes with subtitles anyway, the version sans singing seems more valuable,

Annie remains a dud because the movie itself is an insufferably cute and cloying concoction. How so much talent wasted itself on this mess is a mystery to me. The Blu-ray lacks substantial supplements but delivers fairly good picture and audio. I find this to be a pretty unwatchable flick, but I can’t complain about this satisfying Blu-ray.

To rate this film visit the Special Anniversary Edition review of ANNIE

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main