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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Annie movie review: abandoned child

by MaryAnn Johanson

Annie yellow light

Quvenzhané Wallis is adorable and Cameron Diaz is a hoot. But the movie is energetic yet bland, inoffensive and instantly forgettable.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

She’s not an orphan in this latest version of her musical-comedy adventure: Annie is a foster kid. At least, the “It’s a Hard Knock Life” song substitutes “when you’re a foster kid” for “when you’re in an orphanage” in the lyrics… which are pretty much the only bits of the lyrics that are intelligible (other than “it’s a hard knock life”). There’s something very desperate and frenzied in this 21st-century updating of the story of the spunky little parentless girl who wins over a gazillionaire, and it’s not, oddly, anything to do with the economic echoes today of the original stage (and 1982 film) Annie’s Great Depression setting. It may be that director Will Gluck (Easy A) isn’t comfortable with the heightened artificiality of the musical as a genre: the song and dance numbers feel rushed and half done, as if we’re watching an early rehearsal that he’s still trying to figure out how to shoot. It makes for a curious energetic blandness, an inoffensiveness that is instantly forgettable. Still, Quvenzhané Wallis is a smart, resourceful, generous, adorable Annie, so much so that I never quite bought that Jamie Foxx (Horrible Bosses 2) as the new Daddy Warbucks — here, cell-phone magnate and New York City mayoral candidate Will Stacks — could be quite as grouchy around her as he is. And Cameron Diaz (Sex Tape) as Annie’s mean, alcoholic foster mother Miss Hannigan is a hoot. Pity the rest of the supporting cast, including Rose Byrne (Neighbors) as Stacks’ assistant and Bobby Cannavale (Chef) as his election manager, are left to merely tread comedic water.

Annie (2014)
US/Canada release date: Dec 19 2014 | UK release date: Dec 20 2014

MPAA: rated PG for some mild language and rude humor
BBFC: rated PG (mild bad language)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • Shoot. I loved the Broadway musical when I was ten, but was disappointed by the 1982 movie version — out of every little girl who auditioned for the role, they couldn’t find an Annie who could sing? I liked the previews for this version and hoped it would make up for the first movie.

    Yours is the most positive review I’ve seen so far, so I guess not. Maybe I’ll give it a go anyway …

  • Tonio Kruger

    I have yet to see the original 1982 version so I doubt I will be seeing this version any time soon.

    It is tempting to go just to see if the new version has a version of this number:


    After all, that is the one musical number from the original that I actually like — though that probably says more about my affection for Ms. Reinking and how much of the movie I’ve seen on YouTube than anything else.

  • There isn’t.

  • Tonio Kruger


  • RogerBW

    Seems to have fallen into the “inoffensive, bland, you can take the kids to it” trap. Which isn’t always financially a bad thing, but is usually pretty terrible creatively.

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