A Lovable Misanthrope


I don’t know how I grew up Catholic in the Midwest and came to identify with a neurotic Jew from New York, but that seems to be the case whenever I watch Annie Hall

Annie Hall has been one of my favorite movies for a long time and after watching it again last night I realized why.  Woody Allen makes being miserable seem charming.  He is the smart underdog taking shots at snobby intellectuals.  While I didn’t get all the cultural references upon my first viewing and I’ve yet to watch a Fellini film (La Dolce Vita is coming from NetFlix), the rest of the film rings true.

Nothing irks Alvy Singer (Allen) more than intellectuals patting themselves on the back and expressing their verbose and inflated opinions.  While at a high-class party with writers from the New Yorker, Singer sneaks in to the bedroom to watch the Knicks because he is sick of going to parties and “faking insight.”  I love him for this.  I also can’t help but feel for a character who exudes every single worry I’ve ever had, and then some.  He overanalyzes sexual experiences, feels guilty enjoying things, and describes his relationships with women using the Groucho Marx joke; “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.”  I’m not nearly the neurotic mess that poor Alvy is, but all his quirks and worries, no matter how irrational, make perfect sense to me.  I won’t go into a movie if it has already started either. 

Other than sympathizing with Alvy, there is a lot more I love about this movie. Diane Keaton is beautiful, Christopher Walken is hilarious in a cameo role, and the dialogue has countless classic moments.   I can’t pick a favorite, but as a New York transplant from Michigan, one that strikes a chord is,

“Don’t you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we’re left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here. “

I am not a Woody Allen fanatic by any means and have only seen a handful films from his prolific catalog (a lot of which I would never bother with), but Annie Hall will always be pure enjoyment for me.  Like him or not, he changed the face of what a leading man could be, and he deserves credit.





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