Annie (Special Anniversary Edition) [DVD] 
Though it's not in the same league as the classic screen musicals, Annie's heartwarming rags-to-riches storyline, social comment (shallow as it may be) and catchy songs make for an entertaining and unpretentious 90 minutes' viewing. Aileen Quinn is the irrepressible titular orphan, by no means as irritating as she looks in the cover picture; Albert Finney is Oliver Warbucks, the tyrannical tycoon (with a hidden heart of gold, of course) who adopts her for a week in the interests of good PR. The real show-stopper, though, is Carol Burnett as the gin-soaked harpy Miss Hannigan, ruling with an iron fist over an orphanage full of unruly girls, flirting with every man in sight and eventually scheming with her unscrupulous brother (Tim Curry) to kidnap Annie and reap a fat Warbucks reward cheque. While the songs--including "Tomorrow", "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile" and "It's a Hard Knock Life"--are excellent, the kids' voices are shrill and the production pretty low-rent: Annie is very obviously a stage show brought to screen on a low budget. But while it lacks the polish that make the Rodgers and Hammerstein and Lerner and Loewe musicals so special, it's funny and sweet and has a rough charm all its own.
On the DVD: The film is presented in widescreen, preserving its original 2.35:1 aspect, and is enhanced for 16:9 widescreen TVs; the soundtrack is Dolby surround, though as noted above the music score is relatively rough and ready so top-notch sound isn't actually as important as it would be in other musicals. The extras are pretty disappointing--an uninspired interactive menu features only the obligatory multi-language subtitles, (very) short biographies of the key cast members, a few publicity cards and posters, the theatrical trailer and--most interestingly--an isolated musical score. No commentary from director John Huston, no documentaries, nothing about the 1930s cartoon strip that was, apparently, one of the most popular of its day. There's actually more information in the accompanying booklet than there is on the disc. --Rikki Price... Read More »
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19 April 2004
£3.90 - £6.49