Academy Award® nominee Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) stars as Annie, a young, happy foster kid who’s also tough enough to make her way on the streets of New York in 2014.
Originally left by her parents as a baby with the promise that they’d be back for her someday, it’s been a hard knock life ever since with her mean foster mom Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz).
But everything’s about to change when the hard-nosed tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) – advised by his brilliant VP, Grace (Rose Byrne) and his shrewd and scheming campaign advisor, Guy (Bobby Cannavale) – makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in.
Stacks believes he’s her guardian angel, but Annie’s self-assured nature and bright, sun-will-come-out-tomorrow outlook on life just might mean it’s the other way around.
What We Thought:
The very first shot of Annie is a brilliant nod to the 1982 original classic. For the first 30 seconds of the movie, you’re not exactly sure what film you’re watching, and it’s terrific.
Unfortunately, that is quickly followed up by a silly and unnecessary musical number that feels shoehorned in, thus setting the tone for the rest of the film.
Annie is — more than anything else — a wildly uneven film. There are moments of sheer brilliance (the aforementioned opening shot, a parody film inside the film, a joke in said film’s credits that movie nerds will love), and moments that will make you cringe.
There are a nice amount of nods and in-jokes referencing the original film — such as the nightclub band called The Leaping Lizards — that are fun for the adult viewers to watch out for.
As with most things she’s in, Rose Byrne is easily the best part of the film. She’s just so fantastic in everything, she elevates the film for her presence. David Zayas (Dexter, Oz, Gotham) is also a bright spot as the local shopkeeper in love with Cameron Diaz’s Ms. Hannegan. (He can do better.)
Quvenzhané Wallis is solid in the lead role. As with her bafflingly Oscar-nominated role in Beasts of the Southern Wild, she’s completely adequate, but I just don’t get what all the fuss is about.
The music itself is pretty solid, and there isn’t too much of it. There are some new songs and some of the classics are updated, but it’s the classics that work best.
Ultimately, all of this is said as an adult viewer who loves the original film. My guess is that most kids won’t care about anything I just said, and at least the parents who take their kids to see it will somewhat enjoy the film.