After a record-breaking Broadway run, Charles Strouse’s tuneful 1977 musical, "Annie," engendered two film versions, a splashy 1982 Hollywood production , and a 1999 TV movie. Of the two, the latter, with Kathy Bates, Victor Garber and Audra MacDonald, is the more sober and satisfying treatment. Yet, on paper, the 1982 film seemed a sure bet. The legendary John Huston was chosen to direct, and the prodigiously talented Aileen Quinn was selected for the title role. A sumptuous supporting cast was assembled to flesh out the original "Little Orphan Annie" cartoon characters, including Carol Burnett, as the deliciously vicious Miss Hannigan, and the great Albert Finney as Daddy Warbucks, not to mention Ann Reinking and Bernadette Peters, hardly novices to the Broadway musical. How then could such supreme talent create a film so God-awful?
Brash and brittle, Annie struggles to compensate for its weak script and cloying sentimentality. The 1930’s nostalgic touches are heavy-handed, and the gags often fall flat; although Burnett’s outrageously, campy performance unquestionably has its moments. Annie is over-produced, over-choreographed and over-acted. Yet if this sort of onslaught is to your liking, you will be elated over the new Blu-ray edition which hits the shelves this week.
The Columbia/Sony 30th Anniversary Blu-ray offers an excellent transfer of the film, which is presented in a letterboxed format, preserving the original widescreen ratio. The picture quality is sharp and clear. The high-definition visuals showcase the vibrant hues of a film, which is, if nothing else, highly colorful. On a good surround system, the superior DTS HD sound will blow you out of your Barcalounger.
With respect to special features, the Blu-ray includes a previously released short in which Quinn reminisces about making the film. Trailers and previews supplement the extras. And, for the Karaoke-minded, there is a sing-along option, with which one can re-watch the entire film with projected lyrics; allowing the viewer to warble all the tunes along with the characters in the film. However, should you be strongly inclined to use this option, please consider charitable, volunteer work, a nobler and more humane use of your time.
Annie. 30th Anniversary Edition