Tooo-marrow, tooo-marrow, I luv ya, tooo-marrow, you’re only a daaaay, aaaawaaay. It’s been 30 years since Annie first erupted onto cinema screens, and now it’s back in HD form. On its initial release it got rather mixed notices, which was partially due to the fact that after huge amounts of hype and vast amounts of cash were spent on making the film (including a then record $9.5 million paid just for the rights to the stage show), it had huge amounts to live up to. When it was just a pretty fun film and not the second coming of Jesus on celluloid, it came in for a bit of stick from critics, even if audiences quite liked it.
While it’s never quite reached the very top rung of cinematic musicals, it’s stayed alive and loved, especially by youngsters, for three decades because it’s fun, the music’s good and it speaks to childhood fantasies of being able to suddenly have everything you want.
Annie (Aileen Quinn) is an orphan, stuck in a home operated by the terrifying and domineering Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett). While all the orphans dream of being adopted, Annie still holds out hope that her parents will come back and get her one day. Things change for her when she’s invited to spend a week with the fabulously rich Daddy Warbucks (Albert Finney), a taciturn man who’s ill at ease around children. However his heart soon melts and while he’d like to adopt Annie, she still wants her parents, and so he offers a reward to find them. This causes Rooster (Tim Curry) and Lily (Bernadette Peters) to come out of the woodwork, who team up with Miss Hannigan to try and get the $50,000 Warbucks is offering, even if it means ruining Annie’s life.
The film definitely has its problems, not least is its rather uneven pacing, with the plot changing halfway through from Annie’s new life with Daddy Warbucks to Rooster and Lily trying to get the cash. There are also a couple of songs that could have been cut and the pace picked up a little, but it’s undoubtedly still entertaining, and it’s difficult not to sing-along to the tunes that do work. As a result it’s a good job this Blu-ray offers a bit of a Karaoke version, where you can watch the film with the lyrics coming up on screen (or indeed you can just pick individual songs to sing-along to). So if you fancy a bit of a warble to Tomorrow, Maybe, It’s The Hard Knock Life, I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here or Easy Street, you’re well catered for.
The disc also includes a fun little featurette where a grown up Aileen Quinn reminisces about the movie and what it was like to be suddenly thrown into an iconic role in a massive movie. There’s also a music video version of It’s The Hard Knock Life by a group called Play!, although I’m not entirely sure what the point of that is, as it’s dreadful.
The picture quality on this Blu-ray edition is good and definitely a lot better than my DVD copy, which I’ve always thought was incredibly grainy and dark. Although not perfect (which you wouldn’t expect from a 30 year old movie anyway), the picture quality is still pretty good, with decent clarity, even if some of the darker scenes are slightly murky. There are no complaints about the sound, with a pretty good 5.1 mix that renders the audio in a crisp, clean way. Fans of the film should definitely enjoy this Blu-ray, especially as it’s not too expensive either.
Overall Verdict: Annie may not be the best musical ever, but it’s a lot of family fun. Whether you love Tomorrow or not, it looks good on Blu-ray.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac