IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; Sony Pictures; TCM; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu; YouTube
Starting in 1924, there was a comic strip called "Little Orphan Annie," which I'm fairly sure I've never read. But it's been adapted into various formats over the decades, including a Broadway musical that debuted in 1977. This movie is an adaptation of the musical, which was released in 1982. However, I didn't see it until 2014, on the night that a remake opened theaters. (I'll probably see that one someday, but I have no idea when.) The DVD that I got this movie on also includes a 1995 TV movie "sequel," Annie: A Royal Adventure!. Plus there was a 1999 Disney TV movie remake of this film, which I haven't seen, but might like to see someday. Several years after I saw this movie, there was a live performance on NBC.
So, I guess this is set in 1933. There's this 10-year-old girl named Annie, who lives in an orphanage with a bunch of other little girls. Annie is an adorable moppet who is both very sweet and tough. The orphanage is run by a woman named Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett), who spends most of her time drinking. She seems to hate the kids in her charge, though that may just be an extension of hating her job. And she throws herself at pretty much every man she ever meets, presumably hoping one of them will take her away from this life. But anyway... she especially seems to hate Annie, who is beloved by the other girls. And apparently Annie has a habit of running away. On one such occasion, she rescues a dog from some boys who were abusing it, and names the dog Sandy. A cop soon catches Annie and takes her back to the orphanage, along with Sandy.
Soon thereafter, a woman named Grace Farrell comes to the orphanage, looking to borrow an orphan for a week, for her employer, a billionaire named Oliver Warbucks. It seems like this was meant as a sort of publicity stunt, but all of Warbucks's employees quickly come to love Annie, and she gradually melts his heart, as well. And um... Warbucks is a staunch Republican, but his countless connections include President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Edward Herrmann), a Democrat whose ideals Warbucks is opposed to, but which are rather in line with Annie's own way of thinking. And... well, a bunch of other stuff happens. And Warbucks eventually decides to adopt Annie, though I think that was at least as much because of the feelings he had suddenly developed for Grace as his feelings for Annie herself. However, Annie has always dreamed of her real parents coming back for her, so Warbucks decides to help find them, by offering $50,000... which naturally leads to lots of people falsely claiming to be her parents. They're all easily refuted, except for one couple.
Rooster Hannigan (Tim Curry) is the con-artist brother of the woman who runs the orphanage. He and his girlfriend Lily (Bernadette Peters) use knowledge acquired from Rooster's sister to make their claim on Annie seem genuine. (Incidentally, the second time we see them is a scene where they show up at the orphanage in very flimsy disguises, and Miss Hannigan didn't recognize them at all, a fact which I found utterly unbelievable, because they were completely recognizable.) Anyway, they manage to get Annie, and a check from Warbucks, but of course their scheme is ultimately foiled, and Annie ends up being adopted by Warbucks.
Well. I looked forward to seeing this movie for many years, and I'm glad I finally did. I actually enjoyed it more than I expected to. I was familiar with the two most famous songs, "Tomorrow" and "It's the Hard-Knock Life" (though I always thought the latter was "A Hard-Knock Life," not "the"). The rest of the songs were unfamiliar to me, but they were all decent. And there was some really great choreography. The story itself was kind of simplistic and all the major plot points were ridiculously easy. It's like... everything just sort of happened. It was all completely unbelievable, and yet it all felt totally natural. Very strange. But it was fun and uplifting, I guess. (It's also really weird that Warbucks had a helicopter, as well as phones in his car and his copter, in 1933, but whatevs.) And... I dunno what else to say. I said it was fun, right? Well, that bears repeating....
Oh yeah, also, Warbucks had a couple of bodyguards, Asp and Punjab. We don't really see much of Asp, though he's the chauffeur and apparently knows martial arts. But Punjab is cool because he has some amazing mystical powers, even if no one except Annie seems impressed by this fact. (But now that I think about it, I don't remember if I ever saw him display these powers to anyone but Annie.) Also he's played by Geoffrey Holder, best known to me as the guy from early 80s 7-Up commercials.