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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.09%
Worth A Look33.72%
Just Average: 19.77%
Pretty Crappy: 22.09%
Sucks: 2.33%

8 reviews, 38 user ratings

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Anna and the King
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by EricDSnider

"Getting to know you, getting to know how you're kind of mediocre."
3 stars

Considering director Andy Tennant's previous efforts include things like "Ever After," "Fools Rush in" and the made-for-TV "Amy Fisher Story," "Anna and the King" is a fantastic achievement.

Not giving any extra credit for rising above his most recent work, however, "Anna" fails to be the grand, sweeping drama it wants to be.

Based rather loosely on the true story of Anna Leonowitz, an Englishwoman who went to Siam in 1862 to be a schoolteacher to the king's numerous children, "Anna and the King" is a character drama. We see how Anna (Jodie Foster) helps change Siam for the better, and how Siam -- particular its king (Chow Yun-Fat) changes Anna for the better.

The story is more familiar (and more romanticized) in the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "The King and I." Fans of that show, though, will find many differences in the new version. The romance between Tuptim and Lun Tha is made almost non-existent, and Anna's attempt to Anglicize the king's family so as to impress visiting English nobles is also swept away. (Just as well on that one, since it always smacked of ethnocentrism: "Ignore your own culture and act British if you want the British people to like you.")

There's also a completely unnecessary subplot involving a traitor (Randall Duk Kim) who stages a coup attempt, culminating in an Indiana Jones-style jungle battle and bridge explosion.

That subplot does nothing to advance the theme of personal change and acceptance of other cultures. It seems to be there solely to make the film too long. One wonders if Tennant kept it in out of fear that a straight-forward drama, with so little "action," wouldn't attract audiences.

He needn't have worried. Foster, with her expressive face and flawless accent, performs admirably as Anna, making her simultaneously both headstrong and directionless (after the recent death of her husband). And Yun-Fat makes a fine king, a truly believable monarch. He commands respect and perhaps a little fear -- but he obviously loves his family, too, making him an accessible character. In fact, Yun-Fat out-acts Foster for most of the movie, and makes one forget Yul Brynner ever even played the role.

Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (who also did the equally striking "Twin Peaks" TV series) gives us a stunning view of 19th-century Siam. There are many wide shots of gorgeous scenery and palaces, showing us plenty of beauty to look at to accompany the engaging story.

The film's only major weakness is the aforementioned subplot, which sticks out like a sore thumb. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the little show that Anna has the king's children put on for him. In it, they sing "Daisy Bell" (aka "A Bicycle Built for Two"), which wasn't written for another 30 years. Tsk, tsk.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1691&reviewer=247
originally posted: 06/29/03 22:45:41
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User Comments

2/20/14 Tatia My favorite movie!! 5 stars
2/26/13 Julie Link great movie! 4 stars
11/10/10 H Crompton this is the best version 5 stars
1/31/09 Pat Great romantic story! 4 stars
3/11/08 LAW MY FAVORITE VERSION!!! 5 stars
11/06/07 kimberly valerio in the start it is boring but when the story continously i think it is ok.. 5 stars
7/19/07 deedee I loved the movie, in fact, I bought it. Jodie Foster was awesome, and Chow was too! 4 stars
4/01/07 Stanley Thai It's a good film but it too long to like it. 3 stars
1/08/07 christina it a good movie 5 stars
11/27/06 Sunsham Excellent movie - very touching and thought provoking. How much of it is real?? 5 stars
10/20/06 michael Marcos it so good 5 stars
10/16/06 danielle pretty good, i like the fact that the culture was very accurate 5 stars
5/05/06 Ashley Hinz Good movie, ruined by the grusomeness. 4 stars
7/13/04 tatum Long, hokey, but I could not help getting caught up in it 4 stars
6/02/03 Virgil I loved it. Very beautiful. 5 stars
12/12/01 stefanos lets see 4 stars
6/19/01 canvex still o.k 4 stars
2/10/01 Leather jacket Yall go shit on yourself, Anna is my princess anyday 5 stars
1/06/01 Ian Eagleton A bit long, but the acting is superb and the subplots are ultimately very moving. 4 stars
12/15/00 QuanVu nothing 5 stars
12/10/00 BrittenysPears GREAT MOVIE. Worth rental fee. Foster has a boney nose 5 stars
12/08/00 Savvy Chow Yun-Fat is PHAT. AMAZING movie rent it you wont regret it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
2/08/00 fire-n-ice could have been better if an hour was cut out. very long winded. and no sex in that sucked. 3 stars
2/05/00 Kyle Broflovski Bah. 2 stars
1/20/00 node A stunningingly beautiful and inspiring motion picture,left me with a warm feeling inside. 5 stars
1/20/00 LC Worth it! 4 stars
1/03/00 Mckenzie Jackson Great film. Chow Yun Fat is great. 5 stars
1/02/00 crazy shithouse 1 stars
12/24/99 Tha Obsequious Bad Janatah A damn bore is what it is! Great review Lynchpyn! 1 stars
12/22/99 kim nguyen awesome 5 stars
12/20/99 Jennifer Yeh a MUST see ^_^ 5 stars
12/19/99 scottmar A bit long, without much payoff. 3 stars
12/19/99 Mr Showbiz Lovely to look at, though overlong and lifeless 3 stars
12/18/99 Jay So-so movie... Yun-Fatt oughta stick to action 3 stars
12/17/99 nil incredible 4 stars
12/17/99 Tracey Chow Yun-Fat and Jodie Foster are excellent! No songs! No guns! 5 stars
12/16/99 KC This has got ot be the BEST movie of the year, or the decade. It was so beautifully done! 5 stars
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  17-Dec-1999 (PG-13)



Directed by
  Andy Tennant

Written by
  Peter Krikes
  Steve Meerson

  Jodie Foster
  Chow Yun-Fat
  Bai Ling
  Mano Maniam
  Kenneth Tsang

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