‘Annie’ surprises, but ultimately fails

By Jacob Pierce @JacobPierce1_DE The Daily Egyptian

“Tomorrow” has come once again for little orphan Annie. This time around, Annie falls victim to the “Hard Knock Life” of Hollywood remakes.

“Annie,” (PG; 118 min) is a musical adaptation directed by Will Gluck and stars Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Quvenzhane Wallis and Cameron Diaz.

Annie Bennett, played by Wallis, lives in the foster care of Colleen Hannigan, played by Cameron Diaz, a drunkard and former rock singer stuck in her past glory. The conditions are terrible; Hannigan treats the children poorly and the kids have lost all hope of being adopted.



Bennett’s life improves when she is saved by Will Stacks, played by Foxx. Stacks is a New York mayoral candidate and rich beyond imagination. Stacks adopts Annie and as they bond with each other, Annie’s life begins to change forever.

In the kingdom of reboots and adaptations, a modernized version of “Annie,” was far from the worst idea Hollywood has come up with. The moment Jay-Z became a producer for the film, the idea of combining show tunes and hip-hop arose. The potential seemed to be endless and was not completely wasted.

Gluck’s intelligent level of pop-culture humor rarely misses. Cringe-worthy pop culture references are a staple of bad children’s movie and are often mistaken by lazy writers as smart humor. With experience directing movies such as “Easy A,” Gluck provides jokes that have merit and are not outdated.

Gluck’s main adult star, Foxx, helps keep this bland picture from drowning in its plain qualities. Regardless of the film’s value, the actor brings humor and joy to every role he plays. His random quips and line deliveries saves jokes that would flounder if delivered by most other actors.

Wallis, a former nominee for the best actress award at the Oscars, brings empathy to a seemingly annoying role. Every trailer for this movie showed Wallis being a precocious kid character. As the titular role, she goes beyond expectations and makes the character real.

For all of the little pieces of gold “Annie” has hidden, it is surrounded by a lot more wasted opportunities. The biggest wasted opportunity is the lackluster music delivery.

“Annie,” starts at an unfair advantage when it comes to its music because of the tunes’ popularity. It is not only one of the most well-known musical acts in existence, songs like “Tomorrow” and “Hard Knock Life” are familiar numbers, even to those who have never seen the original musical.

It is unclear who is to blame for the songs playing second fiddle to everything else in this film. A lot of the classic songs in “Annie,” ones that should make the audience feel dozens of emotions, are better left on the cutting room floor in this adaptation.

Ms. Hannigan is a key role in any version of “Annie.” Almost as well-known as Annie herself, it would be evident in any film if the character was portrayed badly. Diaz may be the most inept choice ever.

Even in her best movies, Diaz has never given anything past an adequate performance. Average is the only way to describe her. She bores even more in this film than before.

The character should be even more interesting in this modern reimagining. A better portrayal would include charisma and empathy with everything this film gives her in backstory. Diaz does not go the extra mile and it shows in this film.

The fad of reboots and remakes has lasted longer than most Hollywood trends normally do. Unfortunately, it does not look like it will end anytime soon; even films with bad reviews tend to find odd box office success. Uneven attempts like “Annie,” will become commonplace because of this.

Stars: 2.5 out of 5