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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Annie (2014)


I hear the Jay-Z beat, yet, I hear no Jay-Z. What gives, Hov?

Ten-year-old Annie Bennett (Quvenzhané Wallis) is a foster child living in Harlem who has to deal with the mean treatment of her caretaker, Colleen Hannigan (Cameron Diaz), and always looks towards the bright side that her parents may, one day, come back to get her. That’s a dream for sure, but it’s one that Annie doesn’t ever give up on; just like she doesn’t really give up running everywhere she goes, all because she states, “it gets her places quicker”. However, all that running comes back to almost harm little orphan Annie, until the rich, famous and mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), saves her from a possible car accident. This moment finds an audience and gives Stacks the kind of lead in the election that he so desperately needed. Therefore, he is forced to, by his oily campaign manager (Bobby Cannavale), that it’s best for him to keep relations between he and Annie constant and always in front of the public to see. Even if Stacks doesn’t really care for kids as is, he has to do this in order to seem like a relatively likable guy. But then, something changes: Stacks begins to care, but it may be too late.

Oh, and yeah, it’s a musical, too. That’s if you didn’t already know that.

Oh, I get it. You apparently can teach an old dog new tricks.

Oh, I get it. You apparently can teach an old dog new tricks.

Anyway, a lot of people have been raining down on Annie‘s parade as of late and it’s disappointed me. Sure, I get that we didn’t really need a remake/updated-version of the 1982 classic, but then again, you could say that for many other movies out there in today’s day and age that are made for the screen, for no other reason than just money, money, and more money. To me, the fact that critics have been trashing this movie, not only proves that some people aren’t willing to change and go along with the times, but anytime that anybody touches something near, dear and sacred to their hearts, and changes it up a teeny, tiny little bit, there’s automatically resentment. I can’t say that I haven’t acted like this before, but for the most part, when seeing something that’s been remade or updated for a modern-day audience, I sit back and wonder how it could all turn out to be.

Because either way, if the movie’s a train-wreck or not, it’s still something interesting to watch and ponder about. Like, for instance, why was this remade? And the simple answer to that question is simple, “No reason really”. Maybe Jay-Z saw some money in the name-product that is Annie and decided that he might try to cash in on some of that money, even if it did mean making a movie for the whole family, and around the holidays no less.

But I’m definitely beating around the bush with this one. What I’m trying to say about this latest version of Annie, is that the reason for its existence isn’t known and it sure as hell isn’t perfect. That said, I found myself enjoying a lot more of this movie than I maybe wanted to. Most of that has to do with the fact that director Will Gluck makes this out to be the kind of movie that not only doesn’t take itself too seriously, but isn’t afraid to throw some jokes here and there for the older ones in the crowd that may have gotten sucked into seeing this because of a young one at home, begging and pleading to be taken out. Or, they could have just been older, creepier people and saw it by themselves.

You know, like me.

Anyway, moving on!

Like I said though, Gluck’s film isn’t perfect and more often than not, feels like it’s being almost too adorable and cutesy for its own good. There’s a certain sense one can get with a family-film that even though the audience who wants to see it may not think deeper or further than the ones who get roped into seeing it, the charm has to be turned up to eleven and annoy the hell out of everyone who is watching it that may be above the age of twelve. This is exactly in the case of Annie; while it’s charming at times, other times, it feels cloying and like it wants you to not just laugh at it, but pet it, adore it, and take it in as your own.

Sort of like an orphan, really.

And for the longest time, this absolutely bothered me. It made me feel like I was watching a film that didn’t know whether it wanted to be too smart for it’s own good, or just downright earnest that it’s practically asking for a hand-out. To me, Annie seemed a little more like the later, but there’s was always that feeling in the back of my head that maybe I was being a tad too harsh on this. After all, it’s an Annie movie, made for the whole family to see, enjoy and not think too much about, not a piece of awards-bait that asks the hard questions about humanity and demands that you think/discuss them after you’ve just witnessed it. In a time like late-December, where nearly everything I see now is about to bludgeon me to death with their intellectualism, it’s quite refreshing to see a movie which, on paper, is simple and plays out exactly like that. Sure, it’s a tad too earnest for its own good, but once you’re willing to get past that, then it actually works.

If anything though, Annie deserves to be seen for a reminder that Quvenzhané Wallis isn’t just a simple, one-and-done flash-in-the-pan that we’ve seen so many child actors like her become. With Wallis though, there’s an inherent charm and likability to her that not only makes her Annie seem like a real, actual kid, but one that appreciates life more than you’ve ever appreciated anything in your life. Some of this is because of the way she’s written, but most of it is because Wallis seems like she’s having the time of her life on the set of this movie and it helps a lot of her scenes.

Turn away kiddies! Not safe!

Turn away kiddies! Not safe!

And of course, because it is a musical, what matters most is that Wallis is able to belt out some tunes, and she is more than able to. Her voice is sweet and tender, and adds a nice amount of emotion to some of the more cornier-tracks in this movie that could have easily been taken out and we would have already gotten the idea it was trying to get across. She’s an orphan! She’s sad! We get it! Move it on over!

One of the problems with Wallis being so good here, is that she takes away from the rest of the cast, all of whom are big, respectable names in the biz. Thankfully though, since Gluck’s direction is so over-the-top and goofy, everybody here seems like they’re either hopped-up on too much Pop Rocks, or are just simply happy to get a paycheck that they want to express it for everybody else in the movie. Either way, it works in favor of the performances and allows for some of the more badly-placed jokes, to land. Even if they weren’t intentional to begin with.

Jamie Foxx gets to display his key sense for comedy as Stacks and seems like a nice fit alongside Wallis, as they build a nice, but realistic chemistry together; Rose Byrne doesn’t get much to do here as Stacks’ assistant/possible love-interest, although she’s charming enough to get by; Bobby Cannavale is, as you guessed it, a dick and doesn’t hide any of that back whatsoever; and Cameron Diaz is campin’ it up, big time, as Miss Hannigan, but seems to be at least having some fun with the material for once in a long while, so I can’t have too much of a problem with that.

Just like I can’t with the rest of the movie. Even if everybody and their mothers, at the time, seem to despise its guts.

Consensus: Sweet, simple, and overall, pleasant, Annie is the kind of musical that doesn’t try to pummel you over the head with thought-provoking questions about humanity, but much rather, entertain the whole family, with a simple song, a dance, and a huge grin on its earnest-as-hell face.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

So this is why I was stuck in traffic for nearly three hours? Thanks. Next time, harmonize and dance somewhere else!

So this is why I was stuck in traffic for nearly three hours? Thanks. Next time, harmonize and dance somewhere else!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

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13 responses to “Annie (2014)

  1. keith7198 December 19, 2014 at 5:07 am

    I can’t see myself seeing this. I am glad to hear it’s not as bad as the horrendous trailers made it look.

  2. MovieManJackson December 19, 2014 at 5:40 am

    Good review Dan. I go to movies alone all of the time, but I’ll probably end up checking this out with a lady friend. Not excited for it, but I pleasantly didn’t mind the trailer, so here’s to hoping I don’t hate, right?

  3. daviruz December 19, 2014 at 7:01 am

    Great review Dan… Enjoyed the movie. Not something to be taken so seriously. Just a movie you watch and enjoy especially with some of the musical there.

  4. CMrok93 December 19, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Exactly my feelings. Wish others felt the same.

  5. mikeyb @ screenkicker December 19, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Sounds like musical fans might enjoy it and it’s good to see Wallis back

  6. Bolton December 19, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Reblogged this on PixxelPress and commented:
    Great review on the latest from Sony Pictures, “Annie”.

  7. Bolton December 19, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    Great job on the review. Hoping this would be at least passable, and it looks like it accomplished that!

  8. Nostra December 20, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Not one I’ll be running out to see, but probably will check out eventually with the family

  9. Susu January 8, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    “Annie” is a modern day retelling of the acclaimed Broadway Musical and 1982 musical film based on the show, which was based on the 1924 Comic Strip “Little Orphan Annie” which in the original show and movie, takes part during the Great Depression, telling the story of Orphan Annie – a pre-teenage hoping for a return of her parents, who disappeared after they left her on the steps of of an orphanage as a baby. In this version, which again takes place in the modern day, it is revealed in the early part of the film that Annie, played by Quvenzhané Wallis (Academy Award Nominee for the “Beasts of Southern Wild”) was left as a baby at a restaurant by her parents, and is now a foster kid, under the care of Miss Hannigan, played by Cameron Diaz. The Billionaire character “Daddy Warbucks” of the classic story, has been replaced by the character of “Will Stacks”, played by Jamie Foxx (Academy Award winner for “Ray”), who is also a Billionaire from his cell phone business, and is running for Mayor of New York City. So – leading up to this film, the predicted expectations were of gloom and doom, presumably I think because this version does not take place in the original time line, and because some people’s now negative views (not mine) towards Actor/Rapper Will Smith, who co-produced the film with among others, his wife, Actress Jada Pinkett Smith, and Rapper and Business Mogel Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, whose sampled one of the Musical’s more populars songs “It’s a Hard Knocked Life” in his hit song “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)”. So what did I think – While I admit – the movie does became a mess to a great deal, it is not a total mess, and could have been a lot worse. A lot of songs that many of us love are there and performed well by the cast, some with variations, some of which are understandably, and some which may have probably weren’t necessary. There are some new songs as well, including the very touching “Who am I?” – sung by Diaz, Foxx and Wallis’s characters in the later part of the film. Some of the modern day jokes, just some of the humor in general works well, and some falls flat. Kids should like this version of “Annie” just fine. Adults – I think most who are fans of the original are going to be annoyed by it. I myself am I fan of the Broadway show and 1982 Movie. While I obviously didn’t love this version myself, again, While it does become a mess to a great deal,it’s not a complete one. My rating is for the music, and some of the humor – 2 ½ out of 4 Stars (The ½ star is for the previously mentioned new song “Who am I?”).

  10. Kristin January 12, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    I just didn’t care for Annie at all, but I get where you’re coming from. It definitely had some cute parts to it, but overall, it just didn’t work for me. I felt like it took all the good parts from the original and almost spit on them. The music, the style, the storytelling, even some of the acting (looking at Cameron Diaz here) was just so below par. It’s too bad. Nice review!

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