A WALK DOWN NOSTALGIA LANE REVIEW: “Annie” stars Kathy Bates (About Schmidt, Misery), Victor Garber (Sicario, Self/less), Alan Cumming (X2: X-Men United, The Anniversary Party), Audra McDonald (Beauty and the Beast , Private Practice [TV series]), Kristin Chenowith (Bewitched , Rio 2), Alicia Morton (The Thirst, Miracle Run [TV Movie]), Lalaine (Easy A, Lizzie McGuire [TV series]), Sarah Hyland (Modern Family [TV series], Vampire Academy), and Dennis Howard (Airplane II: The Sequel, Simon & Simon [TV series]). It is directed by Rob Marshall (Mary Poppins Returns, Into the Woods), with the teleplay being written by Irene Mecchi (Brave, The Lion King ). An orphan named Annie (Morton) gets the opportunity of a lifetime when she is offered to spend Christmas with one of the richest men alive: Oliver Warbucks (Garber).
Why not end this marathon with a bang? You know, with one of the lesser known “Annie” iterations. For most of you, you’re probably wondering what version this one is. Well, it’s the 1999 telefilm, starring Kathy Bates and Alan Cummings, amongst others. This is the one I was raised on (through good ol’ VHS) and the one I remember most. So, it only seemed fitting to include it. If you stop reading now, I understand. Musicals aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, especially when it’s main characters are children; you never know what you’re going to get with a kid’s singing talents. But if there’s one thing I can say, it’s that 1999’s “Annie” does a terrific job with the music. It has all the tunes you know and love from the play, and remasters them. On top of that, the performers are quite good, with Bates turning in a notable spin on Miss Hannigan (Bates), and Audra McDonald blowing me away with her singing abilities. Of course, we have to also talk about the titular role, with Annie being portrayed by Alicia Morton this time around. She did alright. Nothing immensely impressive, but she has a good voice and remained in control during her scenes. Her chemistry with Victor Garber was solid and I bought into them as a loving father-daughter relationship. The choreography that went into these numbers was incredibly impressive, mainly involving the Warbucks mansion. These locations are definitely built, giving a very play-like vibe, and the director Rob Marshall commands the musical acts well. They are certainly the best parts, given how the story is more or less adequate. It’s hard to see “Annie” blindly. Everyone knows the story, and if you don’t it can still be fairly predictable. Really, what I can say about the tale (and to this movie’s accomplishment), it has a good heart and holds a strong moral. Though I wouldn’t implore you to see it before you die, it is a classic. Whether or not you see this version, another, or a play is up to you. As for Marshall’s telefilm, it certainly has a smaller feel. As I stated, it’s shot like a play, never really making itself cinematic, but sprawling in order to show the sheer mass of the dance numbers. I liked that aspect of it, though I’ll say it didn’t help when it came to watching this on tape. Unfortunately, my copy is pretty worn, making the quality of video rather difficult to judge. From what I could analyze, it’s that this edition is an entertaining, hardly deterring version of the beloved classic. Besides a few story elements, everything is what you’d expect, but well made. The music numbers are great, the performers are solid, and it’s a nice feature to unwind with your family. If you can ever even get your hands on this, I’d say it’s worth a shot. FINAL SCORE: 75%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: