The Darkest Parts Of Annie That Nobody Talks About

The high-budget, high-grossing 1982 musical Annie was a favorite of many a young person back in its day. While we don't expect a story about an orphan to be completely without some dodgy situations, there are some downright dark things in Annie that can set your teeth on edge, if you give it a close watch. Between jarring song lyrics, over-the-top bad guys and some terrible logic, Annie is a big mess.

Miss Hannigan is a drunk hornball

Maybe they weren't too careful about who they put in charge of orphanages in the 1930s, but Miss Hannigan is an unfit guardian for any kid. And the whole city seems to know it. Sure, she's supposed to be the villain, so we'll skip all the harsh taskmaster stuff that has the kids singing about their "hard-knock life," but let's put some focus on her hard-drinking, chain-smoking, negligee-wearing randiness. She hits on every guy who walks into the orphanage, and it seems like she's already knocking boots with the laundry guy. It's not enough, because she's obsessed with finding attention from men.

Miss Hannigan doesn't turn out to be the worst character in the film, but she may be the most pathetic. She mocks the children, but makes them tell her "We love you Miss Hannigan" all the time. Her mocking and threats are all the act of a bully — a powerless middle manager who exercises her will over people weaker than her. And when she's alone, she makes out with the radio, drinks enough gin to kill a small elephant, and moans about her lot in life. That's a character for a grown-up brain, not a kid's.

How many kids are in that orphanage, anyway?

A successful musical number needs lots and lots of dancing and singing people, but there is no way the amount of kids that are in the "Hard Knock Life" number are cool, even for an orphanage during the Great Depression. Miss Hannigan, when she catches the girls singing in the middle of the night, tells them to get up and says something about the room being up to "code." There are a reasonable amount of girls in the room where Annie is singing the "Maybe" song. When the next musical number starts, there are so many children. Like, way more than any regulation would allow.

This would not only be impossible to keep up with in terms of food, laundry and beds — it wouldn't be safe. That many kids on the fire escape? Unsafe! The kids are going to collapse the darned thing and plunge to their untimely deaths! Danger! Danger! It's likely there were a load of extras for that one musical number, since the core friends of Annie are the only ones who go to warn Warbucks later in the movie, but if there were really that many orphans under Miss Hannigan's care, it's worth mentioning that they could have revolted a long time ago. That would make for a whole different type of dark story.

A grown adult helps Annie escape into the streets of New York

Annie hides in the laundry bin, and Mr. Bundles, the laundry man, helps her escape, and lets her loose on the city streets. They actually shake hands and he tells her good luck. Sure! That makes sense. Because despite the, um, physical relationship hinted at between Miss Hannigan and Mr. Bundles, he likely knows Miss Hannigan is mean to the kids, especially Annie. So she'd be better off alone. In 1930s New York. Yep. That's gotta be it.

No, seriously: what responsible adult would turn a 10-year-old out on the loose? Sure, it gives Annie a chance to find Sandy the dog and save him from some street ruffians (who, incidentally, shove her against a wall brutally, so that proves it's totally safe out there in the streets) and throw some punches at said ruffians, but before too long, she's picked up by a cop who takes her back to the poorly and irresponsibly run orphanage that is probably a lot safer that, you know, homelessness. If Mr. Bundles had really helped Annie by finding her a nice family, or by letting her work at the laundry or something, it wouldn't have been the same movie, so it gets a pass, but damn, Laundry Man. Have a heart.

The lyrics are pretty devastating

Some of the lyrics in Annie are super dark, sad and disturbing. In "Maybe," Annie imagines the parents who abandoned her at the orphanage and supposes they are great, but sings, "Their one mistake / Was giving up me!" and "So maybe now this prayer's / The last one of its kind / Won't you come please get your 'Baby'?" In the tiny little song about the dog, the kids sing about being "small and terribly frightened." Poor Molly!

And, never forget, "It's The Hard-Knock Life" has such uplifting lyrics as "Don't it feel like the wind is always howlin'? / Don't it seem like there's never any light? / Once a day, don't you wanna throw the towel in? / It's easier than puttin' up a fight." Whoa. And then, "No one's there when you dreams at night get creepy / No one cares if you grow or if you shrink / No one dries when your eyes get wet and weepy / From all the cryin' you would think this place's a sink! / Empty belly life! Rotten smelly life! Full of sorrow life! No tomorrow life!" Sheesh. Do you really want your kid walking around singing that?

Warbucks sends his private secretary to shop for an orphan

Why? While it seems really nice that this billionaire wants to invite an orphan to spend the week in his home, it's really because he needs better PR. Aren't here some kind of regulations about who gets to take an orphan and when? Miss Hannigan has no objections to Ms. Farrell walking out of there with an orphan — she just doesn't want it to be Annie. In fact, the two adults play a game of tug-o-war with the little girl until Ms. Farrell eventually wins.

And it turns out that Warbucks wanted a boy orphan, but isn't that just as weird? Either way, a rich dude sending his secretary to rent an orphan for his public image, no questions asked and no paperwork filed, is pretty odd. Blah blah we're supposed to know that orphans don't matter ... but really? No wonder Annie thinks she's there to be a housekeeper when she arrives. Not a very intuitive process.

Someone tries to murder Mr. Warbucks on Annie's first night in the house

Annie ends up down in Warbucks' office right about when a guy lurking about outside throws a bomb through the window. The Asp picks it up and throws it back out, and Punjab grabs the guy and wrestles him through the house. When Annie asks why anyone would want to kill Mr. Warbucks, Ms. Farrell says that the Bolsheviks are trying to kill him because, "He's living proof that the American system really works and the Bolsheviks don't want anybody to know about that."

Could it also be that Warbucks made his billions in munitions? Come on. The guy's name is Warbucks. If he made his fortune in weapons in WWI, or, say, the Russian Revolution, there is a grown-up explanation for this murder attempt, and it ain't pretty. It means that people want Warbucks dead for totally different reasons that put Annie in a lot of danger, for pretty much the whole time she spends at the estate.

Movie night was probably pretty embarrassing for everybody

Warbucks is starting to warm up to Annie. He books the 8:00 p.m. show at Radio City Music Hall. It's so exciting that Annie and Ms. Farrell have to dance around and show their underwear and sing about the movies. It's a family outing, and even Sandy gets to go. That's all awesome and everything, but the movie that's showing is Camille, a movie about a courtesan (fancy kept prostitute) who ends up dying of a terminal illness at the end. Fun times! While the movie shows plenty of scenes from Camille, it totally glosses over the main character's profession. It just looks like a tragic romance.

While there has to be some reason for Warbucks to give his hanky to Ms. Farrell (she's a weepy mess by the time the movie ends), it's interesting and kind of messed up that they picked that film to be the one in Annie. Warbucks, by the end of it, looks like he's either trying not to cry or that he's horrified he rented out Radio City for a hooker movie. Thankfully, Annie is fast asleep and we skate right over that super-awkward thing like it didn't happen.

Ms. Farrell gets a little too excited that "We Got Annie"

Ms. Farrell talks Warbucks into adopting Annie, and then proceeds to do a sexy-ish song and dance number all over the darn estate, dancing with the gardener right after she has her first pseudo-romantic moment with Warbucks. The dance and song are all "za za zoom" and it's because everyone is stoked that "we got Annie." Sure, it's nice that the little rascal has come and brightened up the place, but ...

It's not like they're all Lambada-ing or anything, but all those adults dance around in an awfully adult, grown-up La La Land-type fashion, and it's odd and off-putting.

Annie might be kind of dumb

While she's clever, Annie might not be the smartest kid ever. She's lived in an orphanage her entire life, under the care of a drunken, abusive floozy, and when "Daddy" Warbucks tries to adopt her, she rebuffs him. She says that her parents left a note saying that they'd come back for her when they could, and she was holding out for that. First off, this guy has proven himself generous enough that she can probably stay with him until that would happen, and even a 10-year-old kid would know better than to return to skid row or wherever when she could stay at Castle Warbucks.

He's touched that she wants her real parents, so he goes on the damned radio and says he's offering a $50K reward for Annie's parents to come forward, and gives his address. Because nothing bad can happen when you do that, right?

Punjab is magic and everyone acts like it's NBD

Punjab puts a spell on Sandy to calm down, can calm and cart off a Bolshevik, can heal the pain in Warbucks's leg after Annie kicks him, and can float a whole flower pot with magic. He's magical. He's introduced at the beginning of the movie as a bodyguard. Nobody mentions he is freaking magical. Plus, when it really comes down to it, Punjab saves Annie from certain death. He unwraps his handy turban and ties it to the autocopter so he can lower himself down like a badass, kick Rooster in the face, and grab Annie to get her to safety. At least Ms. Farrell hugs him for it.

Punjab is really the unsung hero of Annie. He and the Asp. If not for those guys, Warbucks would have been killed a long time ago because of his munitions business. If not for them, Annie and Sandy would have been blown to bits. If not for Punjab, Annie would have plunged to her death at the hands of Rooster. And you can't even find decent YouTube clips featuring the character. That is messed up.

When $50K comes into play, things get ugly

The orphans hear of Miss Hannigan's plan for Rooster and his girlfriend to pose as Annie's parents. Miss Hannigan actually knows that her parents are dead, and for some odd reason the cops brought all of her biological parents' stuff to the orphanage, but don't pull Annie aside to tell her of their death in a fire. The orphans try to escape to warn Annie and the adults lock them in a closet, which is effed up. But that's not even the worst part. Rooster and what's-her-name show up, have the other half of the locket and the birth certificate, and that's enough for Warbucks to reluctantly give up the kid, and the check. Thank goodness the other orphans show up to tell Warbucks that something's rotten.

As the president is instructed by Warbucks to put "every G Man east of the Mississippi" on the lookout for Annie, the kiddo is trapped in a car with Rooster, what's-her-name and Miss Hannigan, set for Atlantic City, because where else would you go if you have a check (made out to someone who is not you) for $50K? Annie escapes with the check, rips it up, and Rooster chases after her, saying he's going to kill her. Miss Hannigan looks seriously alarmed and says that she's just a baby. She actually says, "He's really going to kill her." And he sets out to do so. He chases her up a wicked-high ladder on a bridge, with murderous intent. Once they reach the top, he actually tries to drop her off the really high bridge. Dark.

Miss Hannigan gets off scot-free

Just because she tried to keep her brother from killing a child, apparently all of Miss Hannigan's sins are forgiven. At the end of the movie, during Annie and Daddy Warbuck's sort of manic tap-dancing number (surrounded with circus performers and the president and first lady), Miss Hannigan can be seen riding an elephant wearing new clothes and with Punjab looking at her kind of adoringly. Maybe he magic-ed her into being a better person all-around. Or, a better guess is that Warbucks poured a bunch of money into the orphanage (evidenced by some of the orphans being at the big celebration in cute and clean clothes) so Miss Hannigan doesn't have any reason to down booze and feel sorry for herself.

And, if she's got Punjab as a special friend, no need to chase after anyone else. Good job, Hannigan. You fell in a bucket of crap and came out smelling like a rose.