(This is part of my ongoing series on my quest to watch all 100 of AFI’s Greatest American Films of All Time)
35. Annie Hall
I had mixed feelings about watching Annie Hall. I’m not a Woody Allen fan; the whole neurotic New Yorker schtick does nothing for me. Of course, his relationship with Soon-Yi doesn’t exactly endear me to him, either.
Still, I tried to keep an open mind about Annie Hall. Early on, it was all Woody and his neuroses; my eyes rolling in my head, looking at my watch. I was surprised at how often he broke the fourth wall; Frank Underwood would be proud. Allen’s character is a comedian and the film follows his exploits in love and his various relationships. There are a lot of clever lines and insights throughout the movie, but at times I felt like I was watching a stand-up act in the guise of a dramedy: people don’t actually talk like this, do they?
Fortunately, before I found myself questioning my cinematic quest, Diane Keaton shows up. She’s the perfect foil for Allen’s character; young, cute, and charming. Scenes appear to brighten up when she’s in them, offsetting the morose and miserable Allen. After watching and re-watching her in the Godfather series, I’d forgotten that she was more than the wife of Michael Corleone. Thanks to her role as Annie Hall (supposedly based on her true self), the film is bearable, even to a non-Woody-Allen-fan as myself.
Overall, I enjoyed Annie Hall. I loved the scenes of late ’70s New York and Los Angeles (Fatburger and Tail o’ the Pup!) and the cameos (Paul Simon, Jeff Goldblum, Carol Kane, Shelley Duvall, and Christopher Walken). For the most part it’s entertaining, if a bit grating at times, due to Allen’s presence. Not sure I’d include it in my Top 100 list, but I can see why it’s well-regarded. Just not by me.
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars.