Discs Are Rated
Annie (Disney - TV)
review by Anthony D.
Stars: Kathy Bates, Victor Garber, Audra McDonald,
Alan Cumming, Kristen Chenoweth and Alicia Morton as
Director: Rob Marshall
Retail Price: $29.99
Features: Wonderful World Of Disney Trailer
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, Dolby Digital 5.0 English,
Chapter Search (27 Chapters)
Disney meets Broadway in this 1999 made-for-television
movie adaptation of 1977's blockbuster Broadway musical;
itself an incarnation of the long-running comic strip Little
Orphan Annie. The show that gave us the now-standard anthem
of optimism, "Annie" enjoyed a Tony-Award winning run on the
New York stage, garnered a armload of Awards, and continues
to delight audiences around the world with various touring
companies and amateur productions.
Set against the Depression era's New York City, Annie is
a spunk-filled ward of Miss Hannigan's Home for Girls, with
aspirations to find the parents who abandoned her. Annie's
only clues to finding her parents is a half-heart locket
left around her neck and a note from those parents saying
that they will return. Annie finds ways to escape the
clutches of the little-girl hating matron of the home, but
as fate would have it, is constantly returned to her
guardian. Until one day fate steps in and Annie is chosen to
be THE orphan for multi-billionaire Oliver Warbuck's
While Annie is ensconced at the Warbuck's 5th Avenue
Mansion, enjoying the high life, Miss Hannigan hatches a
scheme with her con artist brother to pose as Annie's
parents and collect the reward money Warbucks has promised.
Full of memorable songs and comic book characterizations,
"Annie" is suitable family fare.
This full-frame transfer is delightfully colorful, though
not filled with a "comic-book" look. The colors are true,
fabric designs delight the eyes with only occasional
moiring. The design of the film is often understated with
muted colors standing in for the feel of the film's time
frame. And although, not bedecked with the standard Annie
curls, Alicia Morton's hair is suitably red and finely
detailed. I found the image to be slightly cramped
especially during major dance sequences (Chapter 10: I Think
I'm Gonna Like it Here) which often cuts off dancers on
either sides of the screen. Night scenes sparkle with very
little grain present. Contrast is especially good, with no
aliasing. Next to M-G-M's "Singin' in the Rain," this is
quickly becoming my favorite full-frame color DVD.
"Annie'"s soundtrack is presented in a sumptuous 5.0
Dolby Digital Surround track - - and the orchestrations
glisten! Why no .1 is present is certainly beyond me.
Despite the lack of .1, each instrument of the orchestra is
given a chance to shine through. Listen to the honky-tonk
piano in Chapter 8 (Little Girls). Horns blare, as they
should with nary a trace of wobbling. Dialogue is firmly
centered, and surrounds are used for ambient sound as well
Whoop-de-do!! Disney continues to charge premium prices
for packages lacking in extras. One whole "Wonderful World
of Disney" trailer, which looks like a television
commercial, whereas the the film itself boasts a beautiful
transfer. Not even talent files...nada...zip.
I was prepared to NOT like this as much as I do. "Annie"
was the first Broadway musical I saw in New York City, with
it's original sparkling cast, and that was a magical
night...whoever thought that a show about a moppet & her
mutt could be a winning night of musical theater? Then came
John Huston's travesty of a film...the less said of that the
better. This presentation of "Annie" more than makes up for
the fact that John Huston once tried to film the same
material with overblow results.
Veteran Broadway choreographer Rob Marshall has made an
impressive film directing debut, albeit, he is aided and
abetted by a cast of Broadway veterans, and in the film's
coup-de-grace: Andrea McArdle - -Broadway's ORIGINAL Annie!
Although only onscreen for one-minute, Andrea sings one
chorus of "N.Y.C." (Chapter 12) as "Star-to-Be," belting
beautifully. Scattered amongst the cast are three-time Tony
Award Winner Audra McDonald (Carousel, Master Class,
Ragtime) in a brave bit of color-blind casting, Tony Award
Winners Alan Cumming (Cabaret, and film roles in Spice
World, Titus) and Kristen Chenoweth (You're a Good Man
Charlie Brown) camping and vamping hysterically as the comic
villains. Victor Garber carries himself well as Oliver
Warbucks, and the Annie of Alicia Morton is never cloying.
Granted well-deserved top billing is the Miss Hannigan of
Academy Award winning (Misery) actress Kathy Bates. This is
a far cry from "Misery," and Bates proves to have a legit
singing voice as well as a flair for dance I wouldn't have
thought possible. Her comedic timing is a joy to behold, and
could have been the definitive interpretation of the role,
except that the screenwriters chose to eliminate all dark
elements of the script, including any political overtones.
Thus we are given a non-alcoholic Miss Hannigan, happy
homeless people (!) - - on stage they had a biting up-tempo
song thanking Herbert Hoover for their present condition - -
and a Franklin Delano Roosevelt who only appears as a Deus
Ex Machina plot device. In the stage play, it is Annie who
gives Roosevelt the idea for his "New Deal" and teaches him
that, "The sun'll come out, tomorrow," which he promptly has
his illustrious Cabinet members singing! As this is "DISNEY
presents Annie," I'm reminded of the Disneyfication of Times
Square: sure looks and sounds nice, but shouldn't city
streets have a smudge or two of grit?
"Annie" is suitable family fare, though musical theater
mavens might want to concentrate on the musical numbers, and
use the Chapter Skip button often, after all is said and
done, how many of us really need to hear "Tomorrow" one more
time? With the talents involved, this is one disc that
should be in the libraries of musical fans everywhere.
(Editor's Note: Amazon.com has been offering this disc
for a huge discount at 50 percent off, a mere 14.99! To get
this price of the disc, simply use the search button at the
end of this review for a great discount on a great TV
(4/5, NOT included in
NOT an average)