Directed by Van Flesher and written by Randy Mack and Zack Ordynans, the story of a college student with an “Annie Hall” addiction trying to make his new relationship work. Starring: Gary Lundy, Sara Downing, Kim Murphy, Brian Klugman, Jay Paulson, Rini Bell, Todd Duffey and Kathleen Rose Perkins.
It’s a risky thing to do, to connect your film to such an iconic piece of cinema, it adds a certain expectation that you’re going to emulate that style, when it’s going to be extremely hard to do so. Although interestingly, it doesn’t feel at all like this film is going for a Woody Allen vibe, other than the self-serving, neurotic nature of its characters. The style is very much familiar of noughties American indie film, especially with how it tries to blend moments with characters walking into one scene from another or simply mixing them together. However, the atmosphere throughout is extremely bland, it’s missing an element to make it more individual, a quirk, charm or angle to set it apart. It simply doesn’t have a tangible energy to keep you invested.
When looking back at how frequent there were stories like these in film, it’s slightly baffling, full of young men who only want a woman until she wants them or they can find any miniscule flaw. It’s such a strange thing to centre a film around because it gives the characters a fairly pathetic quality, especially viewing it through a lens of over fifteen years later. Although it’s not the overriding problem here, as well as that lack of personality, there isn’t a solid focus, it tends to bounce around rather than actually attempting to build a significant relationship between Max and Julie. Meaning that when it reaches its ending realisation, there’s no real impact because the connection between them never felt meaningful or sincere. It’s a product of its time undoubtedly, this was a very clear trend in those years and likely relatable themes to its younger male audience but it doesn’t have much to offer a wider selection of viewers.
Lundy’s performance as Max is quite lethargic, there’s no real personality, energy or distinctive qualities to him. There’s simply not much to him, even his obsession with Annie Hall doesn’t feel that convincing. Klugman and Paulson fill the classic roles of the male buddies, one in a committed relationship, one afraid of commitment, always giving terrible advice. Bell and Downing don’t get much to play with here but again they fill the roles well and provide a bit more of a balance against the typical male characters.
Burning Annie is a capsule of noughties taste and fashion, full of immature young men who have no idea what they want or what they’re doing. It’s definitely targeted to younger male viewers and unclear whether anyone else will get much out of it. Its style and tone are both fairly bland, there’s no tangible quality to set it apart from the rest. You can see what it was going for but there’s too much of the same out there.