Monday, March 1, 2010

Movies in a Minute: Annie

This movie was top American director John Huston's first and last movie musical. Last? How could the man who made The Maltese Falton and spawned the best version of Morticia Addams direct such a flop? You'll see soon enough. Despite being blessed with the acting talents of Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry, and Bernadette Peters, it's a helluva musical fail. But it's chock full of nostalgic goodness, so on with it.

We open in the White House, the 1930s, in a little known deleted scene.

FDR: "We're in the depths of the economic crisis. Dammit, Eleanor. I need something, anything, to get us through it."

Eleanor: "War? Government subsidized work programs? Socialism?"

FDR: "No. No, our top scientists have something even better. We've engineered a carbon based cyborg, partially radioactive of course, that puts forth unrelentless cheerfulness in the face of even the most hardened cynic. Any remotely intelligent being that comes within half a mile of it won't be able to stand it for longer than a few minutes without sustaining a nervous breakdown. We call it...Annie."

Annie: "Maaaaaaaaayyyybe..."

Miss Hannigan: "Oh god. Why won't it stop singing? Why? WHY?! I'll go insane, I swear it. I feel like Catherine Deneuve in a Roman Polanski film. Maybe if I make them do some housework, the noise in my head will subside..."

Annie: "Initiate program 8: transform menial household drudgery into high pitched caterwauling."

Orphans: "It's the hard knock life!"

Jay-Z: "Shit, that's what was missing from my latest song. Thanks, singin' crackers."

Orphans: "Let's help Annie escape the orphanage!"

Pepper: "Uh...what about the rest of us?"

Orphans: "Only Annie matters! Only Annie!"

Annie: "Leapin' lizards! I'm an emancipated minor. Oh boy, a cute dog sidekick!"

Street urchins and rapscallions: "Get lost, we're beating him up!"

Annie: "Feel the wrath of my mullet and wooden delivery! Resistance is futile, canine life form. Assimilate or die."

Sandy: "The perkiness. The spirit in the face of despair. I'm in!"

Annie: "Oops. The fuzz! Back to the orphanage with us, Sandy."

Grace: "Hello, I seem to have wandered in here by mistake. I was looking for the auditions for A Chorus Line, and--"

John Huston: "Sorry, we're keeping you, little missy."

Grace: "Dammit. OK, I'm Oliver Warbucks' secretary, getting paid 75% of what his ethnic stereotype manservant makes while receiving twice as many ass pinches. I'm here to adopt an orphan for a week so that Mr. Warbucks can show it what it's missing and then send it back to a life of drudgery."

Miss Hannigan: "Make it quick--I'm trying to make a dress out of curtains."

Grace: "Well, it doesn't really matter which orph--

Annie: "Assimilate. Resistance is futile."

Grace: "I'm strangely compelled to say that I want this one. Yeah, I don't know why..."

Miss Hannigan: "Don't! Don't take it! You won't survive!"

Grace: "I've got to, Carol. You won't last much longer with it under your roof."

Annie: "Initiate Leapin' Lizards sequence."

Grace: "What do you think of the house that Prohibition, Al Capone, and WWI financed, Annie?"

Annie: "I'll wash the floors, window, then the stairs."

Drake the Butler: "Sweet, I'm free to sexually harass four more maids this week."

Grace: "No, Annie, you don't understand...This is all for you!"

Staff: "No need to pick up any toys!"

Annie: "That's OK, I haven't got any anyway. You know, as I'm a motherless child, and no one would even care if I lived or died."

Staff: "Awww."

Oliver Warbucks: "Damned FDR on the phone to me SIX times this hour. I told him the weapon of mass destruction hasn't gotten here--oh. Er, never mind. Er, ah, capitalism! CAPITALISM!"

Punjab: "This is so humiliating. I'm not even Indian! I'm from Trinidad!"

John Huston: "Quiet, you. Mickey Rooney wanted your role. We came this close to giving it to him when he messengered over the Breakfast at Tiffany's footage."

Warbucks: "Get her out of here. She's getting in the way of soaring economic growth! Profits! Warmongering! Take her to the movies, Grace."

Annie: "You're not going to go, too? Pepper says the movies are ever so much fun."

Warbucks: "I have but one child--capitalistic enterprise!"

Annie: "That's okay. Pepper lies a lot. She probably hasn't been to a movie, either. Actually, I think it's better when you don't know what you're missing. You know, I don't have to hang out in this nice mansion. I can go home. Don't bother giving me subway fare. I'll walk."

Warbucks: "Goddammit, kid. You do guilt better than a Jewish mother whose son just dropped out of medical school to marry a shiksa named Kelly. Let's go to the movies."

Annie: "Initiate falling asleep sequence. Engage vulnerable young moppet sequence designed to tug at heartstrings of even most hardened profiteer. Initiate ticking of Grace's biological clock."

Grace: "Now I know how Rosemary felt. It's hideous, I know I should take a frying pan to it, but damned if I don't want to take the little ginger child on my lap and sing My Baby and Me to it. Please, Oliver, can we adopt it?"

Oliver: "The only child I want to adopt is baby Alex P. Keaton. NO!"

Grace: *Bats eyelashes*

Oliver: "Aww. Okay, I'll assume responsibility for the next 8+ years for a child I've barely known a week."

John Huston: "Good news, Ann. We know this musical is a little dull for someone of your experience. So we decided to put in a Bob Fosse-esque dance sequence."

Ann Renking: "Fosse-esque? Sir, I knew Bob Fosse. I slept with Bob Fosse. I helped him organize his collection of bowler hats shaped like gigantic bowler hats when Gwen Verdon wouldn't. You, sir, are no Fosse!"

Oliver Warbucks: "Annie, I really want in Grace's pants, so you're in."

Annie: "Initiate cute child wanting real family sequence. I've been dreaming of my folks for as long as I can remember. They left half of this locket with me when they left me on the orphanage steps. I'll know it's them when I see the other half." *stares wistfully off into distance till eye mechanism shorts out*

John Huston: "We'll edit that out in post."

Oliver: "I swear by your freckles and ginger complexion, I'll find your parents! And I'll offer a huge monetary prize so that your parents will have an incentive to find you. What could possibly go wrong with that?"

Oliver: "Oh. Yeah."

Grace: "It...thinks it has parents? It's becoming sentient!"

Annie: "Number alive."

Oliver: "Well, let's take the kid back to FDR. He'll know what to do with it."

FDR: "Socialism!"

Oliver: "Capitalism!"

Annie: "The sun'll come out..."

FDR: "Oh god. It's become more powerful than I ever imagined. Do what you can, Oliver. I relinquish all power. If only we had a brave but put upon heroine who could squelch it before it gets out of hand. Preferably one with impeccable comic timing...I can't stop singing...come out...tomorrow...SOMEBODY!"

Miss Hannigan: "Ne'er do-well brother and his main squeeze--our only hope is this locket. You and Blondie pretend to be Annie's parents and we'll all collect the cash prize, and then kill the beast."

Rooster: "Agreed."

John Huston: "Ahem."

Rooster: "Do I have to? I mean...I've done it like seventy times already, and I don't think it's integral to my char--FINE." *Crows*

Grace: "853 couples claiming to be Annie's parents. And not one knew about the locket. I never realized how many dishonest people there were in New York."

Sadako: "You're bridge and tunnel, right?"

Rooster: "We're here to dispose of the cretin--er, collect Annie."

Oliver Warbucks: "Screw background checks. She's yours."

Orphans: "Noooo!"

Oliver: "ANNIE!"

Annie: "Initiate perkiness."

Rooster: "To deliver it into the mountains of Mordor from whence it came!"

Annie: "Initiate teary eyed sequence."

Miss Hannigan: "Noooo! I'm overcome...I'm infused with a love of off key singing and ginger children. I won't let you kill her! I--oh, what am I becoming?"

Rooster: "Looks like it's up to me."

Punjab: "Punjab to the rescue! Feel the rage of the noble savage! Oh, Annie, Buddha say that child without courage, is like night sky without stars. Wait, you said I was playing an Indian."

John Huston: "Uh, say something about the many arms of Vishnu."

Annie: "Together at last...together forever! ASSIMILATE!"