Annie movie review: abandoned child

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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.

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cinderkeys
cinderkeys
Wed, Dec 17, 2014 8:57pm

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
Tonio Kruger
Fri, Dec 19, 2014 9:18pm

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wftKf04N5r0

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Tonio Kruger
Sat, Dec 20, 2014 6:54pm

There isn’t.

Tonio Kruger
Tonio Kruger
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Dec 20, 2014 8:20pm

Rats!

RogerBW
RogerBW
Wed, Dec 24, 2014 9:53pm

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.

Roy Jason
Roy Jason
Thu, Jul 05, 2018 8:43am

A cheerful, but flat and emphatically materialistic children’s musical about the delights of life in the penthouse of a New York billionaire. Boxxy software can help u to find always a cool movies and serials