Tuesday, February 16, 2010

arbitrary rating: carol burnett as Miss Hannigan in "Annie" (1982)

Grade: A

When you're a little girl -- five years old, maybe six years old -- you watch the movie Annie and all you want to be when you grow up is an orphan. Dancing and singing, sliding down banisters, twirling on fire escapes. All that looked way more fun than Hard Knock, and damn could those orphans backflip. Where'd they learn to do that shit? The Orphan Gymnasium? But you grow up, get older, have some hard knocks of your own. You sigh with lungs filled to capacity, indulging the vocal cords as you let your air go. Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan becomes your spirit animal on those less-than-perfect days, those I-need-a-drink-after-work days. One day "you're never fully dressed without a smile," the next you're singing "I'd have cracked years ago if it weren't for my sense of humor" as you rip the head off a baby doll. When I used to watch Annie on taped-off-the-television VHS, I didn't appreciate Carol Burnett's drunken, demented Miss Hannigan. She's brilliant here. Check out her crazy eyes at 2:27. Part villain, part clown, the woman is a hilarious train wreck singing a song about wanting to strangle children. And children, after all, are only precious when they are yours.