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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Movie Review - Annie

Annie (2014)
Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Rose Byrne, and Bobby Canavale
Directed by Will Gluck

The movie musical has been making a comeback in recent years and fortunately the remake of Annie doesn't seem to have caused the genre's demise quite yet despite the fact that it is one of the poorly written and acted movies of 2014.  Quite frankly, there's nothing redeeming about this film.  Will Gluck's horribly conceived direction and devastatingly inane musical numbers in this piece (which he co-wrote) are heinously bad with nary a good scene in the film.  In an age where we have an annual live-sung musical air on network television at Christmastime and successful $100 million-plus grossing theatrical musical releases on a seemingly yearly basis, it's flabbergasting to me that Gluck and his producers thought that this version of Annie would come off as anything other than a horrible joke.

Problem #1 stems from the fact that the songs in this "hip" version of Annie are so over-produced and over-digitized that there's never a moment in this film where we in the audience truly believe that these characters are singing.  Their lip synchs to auto-tuned versions of themselves make all of the actors appear to simply be going through the motions rather than actually feeling what they're singing.  This problem is painfully obvious from the get-go and doesn't get any better as the film progresses.  The lack of emotion in the musical numbers makes the whole film kind of moot -- what's the point if the songs can't carry the true heart of the story?

As for the story, the updating of Annie to the modern era isn't grating all of the time mainly because the overarching storyline is similar enough to the 1982 version (of which I barely remember so there are no childhood memories associated with it).   Here, Daddy Warbucks is now Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), a politician who sees political gain in befriending foster kid (not "orphan") Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis).  With the overall premise not changing a lot, perhaps the reason for the remake is because kids today can't relate to a film if it doesn't contain scenes with cell phones or Twitter.  Of course, mentioning Twitter reminds me of the heinous ending in which Annie, who has been kidnapped at the film's climax, is saved by fans of hers (because she's being touted as a celebrity in this current pop-obsessed culture) telling Will Stacks where she is via Twitter.  Even just typing that out has me disgusted.  Let's just call these modernization elements Problem #2.

Problem #3 is that there's not a single actor here who rises above the shlock they're forced to portray.  Jamie Foxx perhaps comes off best (a phrase I never thought I'd type), but considering he's forced to spit up food at least three times in the movie for purportedly comedic reasons, he certainly doesn't come out unscathed.  Quvenzhané Wallis continues to carry the moniker of "overrated" for me.  The young Academy Award nominee has yet to impress and her take on the title character certainly does nothing to change my mind.  Worst of the bunch, however, is Cameron Diaz whose grating and obnoxious take on the grating and obnoxious foster mom Miss Hannigan is so grating and obnoxious that I can't believe she and the director thought this interpretation would be watchable.  Granted, Hannigan is a sleazy character, but Diaz overtly ups the sex quotient and piles on the vocal screechiness so much so that her scenes are some of the worst I've seen in a movie this past year.  She manages to take two of the film's most underrated songs -- "Little Girls" and "Easy Street" (the latter of which is my favorite from the score) -- and make them unlistenable.  It doesn't help that both of these songs are shot with such awkward cuts by the director that they're not only unpleasing to the ears, but also to the eyes.

I've peppered the above review with a few "nice" words, but I can't stress enough that this version of Annie is horrible.  Absolutely horrible.  There's not a thing redeeming about it, making it truly one of the worst films of 2014.

The RyMickey Rating:  F

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