Originally I was going to see this in theaters, but that didn’t go according to plan and instead I settled for the eventual release to home entertainment. Though there are some minor quibbles a viewer could argue against this film all in all, it would have been worth said theater trip. The classic story of Annie remains intact, but not without a few twists…
Annie (2014) Film Review
This version introduces us to young Annie Bennett (Quvenzhané Wallis), a girl in the care of a foster home. Annie’s the one girl who refuses to give up on the dream her parents are still looking for her. Every Friday night she visits the one place she thinks she might find them, a restaurant. She has a note written on the back of a receipt tab and armed with half a locket she’s determined they’ll return someday as the note promises. For now, she has to live with the crabby Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz) and her four foster sisters.
But then a twist of fate changes her life forever when the wealthy politician Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) suddenly takes a political interest in Annie’s well-being.
Today’s box office seems to spend a lot of time re-imagining classics. With exception to one or two, I think it’s a brilliant strategy. Not only for selfish reasons – I tend to prefer modern filmmaking, also because the movie business seems to do a really good job re-making the oldies. This darling gem is no different. Annie is every bit as delightful as its trailers promised it would be. As a whole, the production is nearly perfect. When breaking down some likes vs. dislikes, I have to confess that I’d have liked seeing someone other than Jamie Foxx in the role of Stacks (though I don’t know who), but he does a great job regardless of personal feelings, so much so that the film certainly wasn’t ruined. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
I’m kind of particular about musicals in that I have to be in the right movie-frame-of-mind to watch them. There is just something about characters randomly bursting into song that makes me all, “that-looks-so-weird.” This is anything but true in this adaptation! The film manages to put in all of the songs we came to love and adore from Annie without seeming awkward or as if it was trying too hard.
Instead the music blends effortlessly with the script and dialogue. Then there are the song and dance numbers. Though stylish and cute, these also don’t come across as “too Broadway” or over the top (with exception to the credits scene or the choreographed “Hard Knock Life”). Instead they’re integrated into the movie as if they belong rather than be a stumbling block. The opening lines of each song fit “naturally,” which is exactly what any musical should strive for. One musical adaptation really disappointed me from recent years and since I’m basically alone in that, we’ll leave said musical unnamed.
Beyond that, the film is just plain and simple darling. The young actress who plays Annie is fantastic and I always enjoy seeing Cameron Diaz in films; especially a role like this where she can play the not-so-nice girl and show a different side. The scenes showing the unconditional love the “neighborhood” people have for Annie are sweet as is the relationship that blossoms between her and Stacks. She makes him better and he gives her a place, a home, a family to feel safe with. It’s precious, really. Speaking of the little orphan girl, the attitude Annie adopts in this script is perfect. Somehow she always takes the “higher road” even though she’s the child. Also deserving of a shout-out is Rose Byrne who plays Grace. She’s a lovely character who doesn’t get as much credit as she should yet “completes” the cast.
The musical arrangements and re-imaginings are fun, and everyone (thankfully) does a nice job with their vocals. In wrapping up, I will say, the ending is a bit… outlandish and too easy. This I say in comparison to the rest of the film, though again, it doesn’t tarnish the otherwise sweetheart story we are left with. It’s got style and reminds us to keep even the bad days in perspective. There is one thing Annie’s tomorrow always promises. It’s those famous words – you know them – aren’t you humming the tune right now? *smile* Annie makes us believe in that and then some.Annie (2014): A Sunny & Happy Classic For a New Generation! Click To Tweet