Everyone knows Annie, right? You know, the story of a red-haired orphan girl set during the Great Depression? It was a comic strip, then it was a musical play, then it was a few films. Now it’s received a contemporary adaptation, which … could actually be a good idea. We live in some interesting financial and sociological times, after all, and a new version of Annie could address those. The update would be warranted, and we’d all go home happy. Ha!
It’s like you think that the filmmakers would actually do such a thing. I mean, I was hoping so, but as soon as the first Annie trailer premiered, you could tell that this wasn’t going to be good. Still, trailers are sometimes misrepresentations, so I held out hope until actually seeing the film, at which time all hope faded and sadness replaced it. Annie isn’t the worst film of 2014, and probably isn’t even one of the worst 10, but it’s nowhere near worth your time, and will probably feel like an insult to anyone who loved the musical or the 1982 film.
Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis) is an orph– Sorry, “foster child.” She lives with an alcoholic named Ms. Hannigan (Cameron Diaz), and spends every Friday evening sitting outside the diner her real parents left her at so many years ago, hoping that she’ll see them and be reunited. Meanwhile, Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), an extremely wealthy man who owns a company that makes cell phones that never drop calls, has decided to run for mayor, but needs to earn the public’s trust and admiration.
You see where this is going, right? Stacks adopts Annie for selfish reasons, but her charm winds up earning him over and showing him that there’s more to life than money. Meanwhile, Annie gets to live a life of luxury, all while singing her heart out and cheering up everyone around her. Oh, did you not know that Annie is still a musical? The trailers have tried to hide this, I feel, but, yeah, you’re in for a song every 10 minutes or so. Most are from the original — although with some lyrics updated to fit with our current times — with a couple of original songs that are painful to listen to.
It all feels … shallow, I guess. It’s all materialistic and missing whatever heart was present in the original. It’s all about nice clothes and the latest technologies and toys. Where’s the heart? Where’s the soul? It’s easy accuse a film of being cynical in its creation and release, but this one so very much feels that way. It’s like it exists to capitalize on the Annie name and then remind us that you can buy a whole bunch of fancy products. Is it any coincidence that it’s releasing right before Christmas and is being distributed by a Sony Pictures subsidiary?
The film aims to be funny, but it’s about as funny as watching a snail crawl along the ground. Maybe if you stare at it long enough, you’ll start to laugh simply because you’re wasting your time and that’s kind of pathetic. “Wow, look how big my hair is,” Annie remarks. And we’re supposed to laugh at that. Or, “I didn’t know they made bows this big.” Yes, I’m pointing out two jokes that have to do with size. They stuck with me the most. Perhaps because the film is just a big suck.
I’ve never been on the Quvenzhané Wallis train like a lot of people have, and I feel like after seeing Annie, some people are going to be jumping off. She doesn’t have that “look at me, I’m a star” quality, and she most certainly doesn’t have a strong sense of comedic timing. She looks happy for 90% of this film, and that’s as much depth as she shows. She’s been much better before. The adults aren’t any better. With a talented cast consisting of Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje — and somewhere below them, Cameron Diaz — you might expect good acting but you don’t get it. Would you care about acting in a movie like this? It’d be hard.
Annie is a painful movie to watch. It isn’t funny, it isn’t dramatic, it isn’t heartwarming, it lacks charm and heart, and its songs aren’t even particularly good — especially the new original songs, which are just terrible. It’s shallow and materialistic and does everyone in it a disservice. If you must, just go watch the 1982 version again. It at least has merit.