Home Page > Movies Index > Comedy | Drama | Romance > Movie Review

Plot Details: This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Jew Hams It Up

Annie Hall (1977) on IMDb

Plot Overview

New York stand-up Jewish comedian Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) having “turned forty” is “going through a life crisis” (“Annie and I broke up.”) The movie takes us inside his head from his routine, showing how he got there. He grew up in a house located beneath the Coney Island roller coaster, where he feared the ride would break up and crash down on him. “He stopped doing his homework” when he learned, “The Universe is expanding.” He figured expanding it will break up, so why bother? He's a precocious kid in his relations with girls, but the teacher breaks it up (“You should be ashamed of your­self.”) His draft board classified him 4–P breaking faith in his suit­ability. He's twice divorced, breaking it off figuring, to para­phrase a famous quotation, “I would never want to belong to any club that would have some­one like me for a member.” Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) is as big a kook as he is, in her own way. On their first date, they arrive two minutes late to a movie, and Alvy can't bear to break in on it, so they see another instead, ‘The Sorrow and the Pity’, a documentary about Nazi Germany. Fifteen years of therapy has yielded little insight as to why Arty is reluctant to break up with unsuit­able women, so he and Annie have a tortuous affair lasting years before they are finally quits. You know, this movie has not exactly inspired me to want to see another Woody Allen film, but it has piqued my interest in the lucrative field of psychiatry.


Woody's stand-up routine–derived biographical material follows the pattern of, (Eccl. 6:10) “That which hath been is named already, and it is known that it is man: neither may he contend with him that is mightier than he.” The play­wright kept inserting him­self into the narrative, and his cynical material addressing the ‘Big Why?’ would like to challenge the Creator—“life – full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it's all over much too quickly.” One is better off (Isaiah 45:9) challenging an earthly author—“I heard what you were saying! You know nothing of my work!”—or earthly teachers—“those who can't do teach, and those who can't teach, teach gym”—or earthly parents—“Every­thing our parents said was good is bad: Sun, milk, red meat … college.” It is God (Isaiah 45:12) who made what is, “The universe is expanding.” And He wants us (Isaiah 45:18) to enjoy his handi­work, “It won't be expanding for billions of years yet, Alvy. And we've gotta try to enjoy ourselves while we're here!”

(Eccl. 6:11) “Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better?” This movie is packed with vanities (e.g., “I forgot my mantra”) that aren't going to improve our lot.

(Eccl. 6:12) “For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?” Woody's play within the movie (about his life) doesn't even end the way the movie ends, so there seems to be no fixed lesson we may glean from it.

Production Values

Annie Hall” (1977) was directed by Woody Allen. It was written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman. It stars Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. Woody's defining role of a neurotic Jewish comic was nicely matched to Keaton's as a ditsy aspiring night­club singer. It was mercifully pared down to 1½ hours from the original cut of 2 hours 20 min. by elimination the bulk of Woody's fantasies. I didn't miss them.

The original title was “Anhedonia” meaning the psycho­logical state of inability to feel pleasure. Annie Hall was Diane (Annie) Keaton's original name, but she'd changed it so as not to be confused with another Hall in the business. The film employed a variety of devices including: animation, split screen, fantasy, and long takes (semi-wide shots that last a long time.) The color and/or lighting was varied to match the material: fantasy was glossy Holly­wood, Calif. was bright & sunny, and New York was gray and drab. Credit goes to Gordon Willis the camera­man. The film is rated PG. The movie beat “Star Wars” for Best Picture Oscar in 1977.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This movie was a lot of laughs, but it wasn't fulfilling, it didn't leave me in a feel-good mood. But that might be the point, it's hard to tell with such a neurotic director. If you like his material, you'll probably think it's great, other­wise, like me you may have reser­vations. It's been hard for me to acquire a taste for Woody Allen, and I've only succeeded in liking some of them, but not this one so much.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for children: Suitable for children, with guidance. Special effects: Amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Predictable. Overall product rating: Three stars out of five.