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Review: Fanny, Annie & Danny

November 4, 2010
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Fanny, Annie & Danny will be screening during the San Francisco Film Society’s Cinema by the Bay Festival this weekend. Tickets are available for purchase here.

Guest post by Matt Delight of Fat and Skinny Go to the Movies
It’s sometimes really difficult to quantify a movie. The original write up of Chris Brown’s latest feature ‘Fanny, Annie, & Danny’ (which I will refer to as FAD from here on out) describe it as ‘a dark comedy’. If you look it up on IMDB it will say something like Drama/Family. I mean, I guess.

Thus the problems with labels. Too narrow. Maybe a FAD’s a dramedy? I dunno.

It reminded me of a movie from the indie comedy boom from the early 90’s. Movies like Doom Generation, The Daytrippers, or even the classic Bottle Rocket. (Like, if someone came up to me and asked, “Is Bottle Rocket a good comedy?” I’d have to reply, “No…but you should see it”)

FAD is a story of three siblings going back home for a Christmas dinner…in what can only be described as the most dysfunctional on-screen family dynamic since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. FAD opens with Fannie, a woman of undetermined age who seems to be autistic, living in a group home. From there we are introduced to Annie, a dental assistant, who is planning her dream wedding to stoner boyfriend Todd. Finally, to Danny, a sleazy Hollywood record promoter who seems to need 20,000 dollars…fast.

The problems with the family seem to fall largely on the doorstep of the tyrant head of the household, the mother/wife. Think Agnes Skinner (From TV’s The Simpsons) cranked to eleven. However, it’s kinda Seymours fault for not standing up to his mother.

As we find out more and more about these characters, the movie plays like a map to dysfunction. As we have the core problem of mom, (and dad, by not dealing with said problem) and it’s effect on the children. Fannie, who has retreated/escaped within herself. Danny, who escaped/retreated to Hollywood. And Annie, who stayed, only to become exactly like her mother. (yeah, she’s not a real likable character either. Poor Todd.)

And where the plot of the movie is pretty straight forward, it’s the richness of the characters that make the movie so complex. The movie shies away from archetypes which makes the movie unpredictable and fun.

Also, if you’ve ever had an uncomfortable family dinner…and you know if you have…then you’ll also know that this movie nails it. It is without a doubt, the most nervous/painfully stressed-out dinner situations I’ve seen in a movie since…well, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Seriously, that family is fugged up.

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