Annie: Film Review
Cast: Quvenzhane Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavalle, David Zayas
Director: Will Gluck
It's a hard knock life indeed.
Not just for the foster kids of Annie, but for anyone heading to see this relatively bland musical movie this coming festive season.
Gone is the renowned ginger kid (aside from an opening scene quirk of writing, aimed at cocking a snook at what used to be) and in is Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhane Wallis as the foster kid, who's full of pluck, smart-aleck charm and a propensity to burst out into song.
When Annie's rescued from being run down by mobile entrepreneur and mayoral hopeful, Will Stacks (Foxx) she's thrust into the limelight thanks to Stacks' approval ratings being boosted by his selfless act. But as Annie starts to become a part of the germophobic Stacks' life, he starts to realise there is more to life than what he'd thought - but will he lose Annie forever?
Yes, the sun will indeed come out tomorrow.
If only to show those involved in this goofily energetic piece so imbued with a rap music /street vibe musicality that there is fresh hope of any semblance of life after Annie.
Granted, if you're on a sugar high or on some kind of medication, this unshakably perky take on the musical (complete with final act car chase and auto-tuning thrown in!) may well appeal thanks largely in part to Wallis' sincere take on the lil orphan Annie. Playing it remarkably seriously all the way through (with the odd exception of overt irritation), Wallis manages to convince you of the orphan's quest to find her parents when all around her seem to have stumbled in from some kind of pantomime.
Worst offender is Cameron Diaz's Hannigan, who "looks after" the foster kids for cash. Kicked out of C&C Music Factory (yes, really) just before they made it big, she's a booze-swilling panto dame whose bitterness at losing her big break is as evident as her flat singing during her big number "Little Girls".
Equally, Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavalle seem to have issues reaching the right notes as the show goes on, with both their big scenes being let down by their vocal talents. As the Daddy Warbucks figure, Foxx is earnest enough to try and pull the sentimental Annie out of the mire, but it's the mix of tones that doesn't quite fit to the big screen. Granted, the comedy of Annie is part of the appeal of the stage show, but the emotion here doesn't translate as well in this formulaic attempt at family feel-good for the holidays.
Dished up with a big side of cheese, Annie is only worth seeing for Wallis, who manages to rise above with her reputation relatively intact.