- Karen Krizanovich
- 22 December 2014
Middling revival of the musical comedy featuring Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx
When the complaining tune 'It’s the Hard Knock Life' is applied to minor housecleaning, you know somebody’s been messing with the musical Annie. Director Will Gluck (Easy A, Friends with Benefits) is at the helm of this realignment of John Huston’s 1982 film, itself based on the 1977 stage musical, inspired by Harold Gray's 1924 comic strip that also generated a 1930 radio show and two earlier films, in 1932 and 1938.
Its star, Beasts of the Southern Wild’s Quvenzhané Wallis, supplants the Depression Era’s ginger moppet with a head of natural ringlets (seeing her photo, she exclaims, 'My hair is huge!') and an equally beautiful smile. She leads a group of multi-racial foster kids homed in Harlem with nasty Colleen Hannigan (Cameron Diaz, going for full-on cheapness). Cork-like, Annie is never down. Her optimism remains undimmed that her parents will return to claim her.
Along comes billionaire telecommunications magnate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx). He may hate people but that doesn’t stop him from running for mayor. After he saves Annie from being hit by a van, prompting a wealth of positive publicity, his adviser Guy (Bobby Cannavale) and assistant Grace (Rose Byrne) decide Stacks must make this girl his key to the city. So she moves in, and proceeds with her charm offensive.
Annie has its moments, like local merchant Lou (David Zayas) saying he won’t take a free mobile phone because they steal your identity. But, while really young children might enjoy it, the more mature may struggle. As Annie, Wallis keeps things watchable, exuding real screen presence. However, even with talented singer Foxx onboard, there isn't a single memorable rendition of the familiar tunes, and 'Tomorrow' hangs around like a kitchen odour. The songs come fast and frequent as telegraphed side pieces (representing a chance to go to the loo, or replenish your snack situation) in a bright, cheery and yet largely forgettable remake.
General release from Fri 26 Dec.