Wow. Suffice it to say that I'd really mislabelled this one. The last time I watched it was three years or so ago, and either a lot about me has changed or it becomes ten thousand times funnier when you're not watching it with your mother.

Plot Summary: None. Well, actually that's not entirely true. This movie tells the story of two freakishly neurotic people, Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) and Alvy Singer (Woody Allen). They're both incredibly awkward and obviously, neither of them has been in any sort of stable long-term relationship. The story's almost told in chronological order, except for the flashbacks, the jump-aheads, the soliloquies, the ask-the-audiences, the out of body experiences, and a couple clips from The Sorrow and the Pity. Alvy is a comedian, and Annie Hall is an aspiring night-club singer. She eventually becomes almost normal (she moves to Hollywood to start hooking up with Paul Simon, a record producer), and he's left in the lurch. Watch to see what happens, it's rather clever.

Review: Let's start with the rather unusual format of the film. Woody Allen does everything that he can as a director to avoid telling a story from beginning to end. He begins with Alvy Singer talking candidly to the camera in a monologue totally unrelated to anything except for establishing character, which it does fantastically. From there, the story jumps to a point where Annie Hall and Alvy are in a relationship, back to where they're both single, to Alvy's childhood home under a roller coaster and his 1st grade classroom. It sounds completely random, but it is used in a way that a coherent storyline still emerges. There are also some very clever juxtapositions, like Alvy arguing with Annie about starting taking college classes, how good all the professors are jumping to Alvy complaining about what hacks the professors are when one wants to take Annie to coffee.

Woody Allen does a great job inventing and making use of his unusual characters. They're excessively neurotic in a way that both entertains and captivates an audience. Alvy Singer is that ridiculously awkward part of all of us, where we just don't know what to do or what to say. He indulges in the fantasies of his own mind, which sounds dirty, but in reality, he just wants to bring the big-headed people down to size. Annie is another sort of awkwardness. She thinks that she's ditzy, but really she just seems like the typical female nerd. She wears oversized men's clothing and plays tennis badly. Her male-female interactions at the beginning of the film obviously show a lack of interaction with the opposite sex. But, it makes her almost lovable. Alvy is just a glump.

There are some beautiful things about it. Alvy and Annie are so cute together, and it's heartbreaking at the end of the movie when they break up. The ending is both original and exceptionally clever. As a romantic comedy, it's great. Does it deserve to be among the best? I believe so. A romantic comedy that three guys in the lounge find funny must have something right with it.

See it for:

Rating: Three-and-one-half out of five stars


Second Opinion:

Needless to say this movie is funny as hell. I've never before seen a Woody Allen movie but I now believe he is a great comic, especially in this film. His use of going outside the movie, like going back into his childhood growing up under a roller coaster in Coney Island, or just stepping out of character to interact in often hilarious ways with other people just walking by, really adds to the character that Woody Allen portrays.

It is, in fact, the characters that really make this movie what it is. After all with a romantic comedy you don't have bombs exploding or fast car chases to relieve some of the character development. Alvey Singer is a man who, unless pushed into the tightest corner imaginable, could not make up his mind about anything. He never has the same opinion twice (in one scene he is praising academia, in the next he is bashing it) and can't even seem to make up his mind about whether he wants to really love Annie or not, but he does not that he cannot live without her.

Annie, on the other hand, is a hippie who is now thirty-something and looking for a steady romantic relationship. She is, of course, the "perfect" hippie, having to get high even before making love. This movie is really about the mind job that Alvey is, and the mind job that their relationship is; as such I didn't think that the character of Annie was quite as developed. Although the audiece does see her progress over the course of their relationship, for example starting out in a little dump of a bar, and ending up singing in a fancy night club, the movie is really just about how disfunctional two people can be, how twisted their relationship can get, and how no matter what they are in the end inseparable.

A movie to watch and enjoy!

Rating: 3/5



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