Movie Review: “Fanny, Annie and Danny”

“Fanny, Annie  & Danny” is a daft pitch-black dark comedy about family dysfunction that plays out over painfully ugly family Christmas celebration.

Fanny (Jill Pixley) is obsessive-compulsive about washing her hands, but a packrat about her living quarters. That’s bad news in the group home where she lives. That, and her insistence on practicing her recorder playing at six in the morning. When the candy factory that has employed her and made her somewhat independent closes, she’s at a loss.

Annie (Carlyle Pollack) is the younger sister obsessed with planning her own wedding, worried about being replaced as a dental hygienist at her own place of employment and not nearly worried enough about her mooch-stoner fiance (Nick Frangione, a hoot) picking up the slack. Annie has always resented Fanny.

Then there’s Danny (Jonathan Leveck), mom’s favorite. He’s a band manager whose fast and loose ways with the books have gotten him fired.  But he shows up for Christmas to keep up appearances and bask in mom’s adoration.

Monster Mom Edie (Colette Keen) steals the show here, a shrieking, ill-tempered, foul-mouthed witch who has kept her war vet husband under her thumb and from whom we can see the failings of ever single one of her children. Over the course of a day — she always does Christmas dinner a week early — she insults one and all, badgers poor Fanny (who is no prize to be around) and generally plays things to the Flannery O’Connor limits. Just hateful, but hilariously so.

Writer-director Chris Brown recycles a few cliches, bends a few others and errs on the side of “bleak” more than once, but “Fanny, Annie & Danny” will make anybody with a family, the more dysfunctional the better, cringe and grin.

MPAA Rating: unrated, with profanity

Credits: Written and directed by Chris Brown

Running time: 1:22

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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