MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
Growing up, my memories of Woody Allen and “Annie Hall” were not favorable. Part of it was because my parents hated Woody Allen, so I had little desire to watch his movies. Part of it was because I was six when “Star Wars” lost the Best Picture Oscar to “Annie Hall.” And yes, I carried a grudge.
As an adult, I grew to appreciate Woody Allen’s work. He’s never been my favorite comedian, but his brand of humor works in its own milieu. Now, only a couple years shy of the age of “Annie Hall” protagonist Alvy Singer, I come to this film with a new perspective.
The story follows Allen as Singer, a 42-year-old comedy writer with an entire closet of baggage. Throughout the film, we see him develop a relationship with the perky and compelling titular character (Diane Keaton). However, hang-ups and obsessions lead the relationship to crumble, and Alvy must face his own fears to try to bring things back together.
This is a very personal movie for Allen, although he has often denied that this is about his actual relationship with Keaton (whose original name was Annie Hall). Whether this is true or not, it’s clear that this is the film that really put Allen on the map with his fans and galvanized him into his own style of filmmaking. This film has simultaneously been his career launching pad and cross to bear. And while I’m not an avid fan, I’ve seen quite a few of his films. Until he somewhat reinvented himself in the 2000s, this has been the film he has constantly been trying to live up to.
“Annie Hall” is a funny film, and it’s fresh even today, though it’s not a knee-slapper. Rather, it’s a shrug-your-shoulder-and-grin kind of movie. Allen is at his best when he throws out the one-liner zingers. As someone who has just rolled over the top of the hill that is 40, I can identify with the movie more than I could as a guy in my 20s. Here’s a movie that shows adults who should have it together acting completely immature and silly. It breaks through the facade that you should know what you’re doing – whether it be career, relationship or even where you want to live – when you become an adult.
Watching “Annie Hall” 35 years after it was made is eye-opening. It captures the essence of the pseudo-intellectual of the 70s, showing the hilarious hang-ups that people had (and still have). Pull back the fads and the fashions, and you see a true examination of the insecure adult, wrapped up in an uncomfortable, neurotic shell.
For as iconic of a Woody Allen movie as “Annie Hall” is, you’d think there would be more special features on this Blu-ray. Not so. Like Woody Allen’s comedy, it’s a bit depressing. Only the original theatrical trailer is included.