Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day Fifteen: Annie Hall

Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #133
Year: 1977
Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Woody Allen and Diane Keaton

There's only one correct answer to the question "What is the worst genre of film?" – romantic comedies. Even horror, a genre saddled with dozens of basement-quality releases every month, has a better batting average than rom-coms. In the history of film, I can count on one hand the number of movies given the romantic comedy tag that I would willingly sit through. Fortunately, Annie Hall is one of them.

A lot has been said about Diane Keaton's performance in this movie, how her character (and her character's fashion sense) liberated women in a totally new way. It's a little weird to think about that now in 2010 since there's a thousand hipster girls that act like Annie Hall that most of us probably wish didn't, but at the time, it's pretty obvious that she was doing something pretty new by wearing a shirt and tie and smoking marijuana before sex.

Her character is interesting, but far from the best part of the movie. That would be Woody Allen. And rightly so, seeing as he wrote, directed, and starred in the damn thing. As neurotic Jewish comedian Alvy Singer, he dominates the screen and completely runs the show not unlike Groucho in a Marx Brothers picture – who he cites several times as he shows his impressive knowledge of comedy history, which he holds in reverence. Nearly everything that comes out of his mouth brings laughs, which is shocking considering how much fucking talking he does. There seriously might be a words-per-minute for a movie character record in this film, but it's actually endearing, not obnoxious. That's to Allen's credit, as I can see the same character being annoying in a lot of actors' hands.

It's a little weird to see a romantic comedy – even though it is a great one, and probably the best – this high on the IMDb Top 250, but it does what every romantic comedy tries to do and actually succeeds. Men who watch this movie will fall in love with Annie Hall, and women who watch this movie will fall in love with Alvy Singer. Or perhaps I should say intellectual men will fall in love with Annie Hall rather than whatever brainless, boob-flaunting Megan Fox character is popular at the time, and intellectual women will fall in love with Alvy Singer instead of Gerard Butler and Patrick Dempsey's buff, five-o'clock-shadowed manly men who are still kind of sensitive even though they're giant douchebags.

Please pardon the cynicism and elitism that drips from that last sentence, but Alvy Singer has kind of put me in the mood.

The Good: Alvy Singer. He's what every smart, funny, interesting guy should want to be, maybe without all the neuroses.

The Bad: Like a Marx Brothers movie, sometimes the movie just exists as a vehicle for Woody Allen to tell jokes. Only in a Marx Brothers movie, that's expected and all you're really there for. Here, it sometimes feels cheap.

The Skinny: #133 sounds perfect to me. I really need to start disagreeing with this list more.


  1. Love this movie.
    One of my absolute favorites.
    I'm loving your blog (I caught your post in the TS3 boards)
    I actually did this two years ago (not the blogging, just the acheivement itself) and this movie was one of the many that really stuck with me.
    Clever writing, great performances. I love it.

  2. Nice man, that's really cool! I originally wasn't going to blog it, but I figure doing so would kind of keep me honest about the project. Thanks for following, I'm combing through your comments now!