Annie: Film Review

1111746 Ð ANNIE

I have to admit, I am not familiar with the Broadway musical or the later film adaptations and my knowledge was limited to a basic understanding of the plot (because it changes in different versions) and classic tracks Tomorrow and It’s the Hard Knock Life. So while I can’t compare it to its predecessors, I can still say that it didn’t leave me with the happy, warm feeling musicals usually do.

Quvenzhane Wallis stars as Annie Bennett in this modern-day reboot as a foster child (not orphan!) living under the guardianship of Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz). One day, mobile phone businessman and wannabe mayor Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) saves her from a potential car accident and when he sees it boosts his campaign ratings, he invites her to live with him temporarily. She is mainly looked after by his assistant Grace (Rose Byrne). His campaign advisor (Bobby Cannavale) begins to hatch a plan with Hannigan to reunite Annie with her ‘parents’, whether they are the real ones or not.

annie2

I love musicals and I usually come out wanting to sing and dance and re-listen to all the tracks, but this had no lasting impression. The characters have little impact and their stories don’t stick with you. I know it’s a kid’s film, so I’m probably asking for too much.

The songs have had a massive modern pop/R&B makeover and I’m happy for that because it made them more exciting for its target audience. Tomorrow and It’s a Hard Knock Life were pretty faithful but with a slight new arrangement, while lyrics were updated to make them more contemporary and some songs were dropped all together. I loved the new chorus on Little Girls – it is so catchy and makes the old versions look pretty boring. I did not like Cameron Diaz’s voice sadly. Every time she sang she sang I cringed (the same goes for Byrne).

'Annie' Film Set

I did not immediately warm to Annie because she is so tough, sassy and upbeat that you don’t feel the need to sympathise. I get more involved with her story and Wallis’ portrayal once her and Stacks start to bond. The new song Opportunity stood out for me the most. Wallis sang it so beautifully. Chandelier singer Sia Furler certainly knows how to write a song.

I was surprised Foxx signed up for this because I would have thought he had more credible projects to choose. However, he came off the best, for sure. His character is the most interesting and has a legitimate, realistic arc. Plus he has got such a soulful voice. I know Diaz loves the OTT acting these days but her performance was so big and brash. Hannigan here is bitter and an alcoholic and just hates everything, yet she comes around to be a good person at the end – which doesn’t make a bunch of sense.

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - December 2, 2013

I loved the use of social media. It is relied upon heavily and actually contributes to the plot. It is makes it contemporary and relevant. There were a lot of social satire nods that adults would appreciate, such as Stacks’ company using cell phone data for other uses – nods to NSA scandal. There is an amazing scene where they go to movies and watch a picture called MoonQuake Lake and the fake movie stars Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher and Rihanna in a mock-Twilight thriller that is HILARIOUS. I don’t know if children watching will even understand some of this humour.

This has moments of greatness. When Annie leaves to be with her ‘parents’, I did feel sad for her and for Stacks. You do feel for the characters, but not the same way I usually do with musicals. I can’t put my finger on it. I liked it while watching, yet forgot most of it almost immediately. Perhaps it needs more stand out songs? A more interesting Annie? A more believable Hannigan? Besides not hiring actresses who can’t sing, I don’t know what could be changed here. I’m sure kids while love it, but if you are looking for a family movie for over the Christmas holidays, I would recommend Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb instead.

Previews now open. Released U.K. wide on 26th December. 

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