It’s obvious that the studios know that family films are in demand and try their best to come out with something that will not only make money, but continue to return to it, ranking it in with DVD and streaming sales. Material like The Smurfs and the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have brought in the families to the theater, but seem to lack the drive to continue it’s life after woods. The reason so is that they try too hard to seem more hip and cool then to tell a good story. The pressure is on to please everyone, yet why can’t the studios just focus on the story rather then marketing?
Our subject in point is the new Annie. The biggest point that Sony is trying to get across is that the classic story is now being transported to the modern era. I know Annie well enough as I participated in an elementary school production. The musical is very popular around children and I’m sure their gonna make their parents take them to this. Placing little orphan Annie in the current day has some possibility (not much, but some), but dangerous considering that most kids were already fine with the depression era setting. Let’s see how well Annie can brighten my life.
Ten year old Annie (Played by Quvenzhané Wallis) is a foster child living in Harlem with the mean alcoholic Colleen Hannigan (played by Cameron Diaz). She lives with four other girls that are constantly reminded by Miss Hannigan that no one wants them and that they will forever be without parents. Annie is the neighborhood optimist who always puts a smile on the neighbors and is always waiting outside of the Itallian restaurant that her parents left her at, promising to return.
Will Stacks (played by Jamie Fox) is a cell phone mogul who is planning to run in the next New York mayor election. His public image is not good as he dislikes the company of other people. During an outing, he saves Annie from getting hit by a car. Though she runs off, someone shot the footage and it becomes viral. Will’s campaign manager Guy (played by Bobby Cannavale) convinces him to meet up with Annie. Will take her out for lunch, only to be persuaded to take her in, saying that his rating will go up. The two bond while Guy and Hannigan plot to separate Annie from her new friend and possible new father.
As I mentioned, bringing the classic Annie could work, but not with how this movie is doing it. That’s a shame because Wallis is actually a good Annie; she’s spunky, full of energy and has the cute looks to pull it off. Sadly, she’s the only thing positive I can say about this. Rather them coming off as progressive, Annie seems to be interested in not only turning all the songs into top ten hits, but the polishing the script so that there can be as many social media references as possible.
Speaking of the script, this has to be one of the most poorly written musicals I have seen. Emotional transitions come sporadically, the motivations make little sense and even the wants and needs of New York are materialistic. I don’t think the Big Apple wants to be seen as this. The worst offense here is Cameron Diaz and Hannigan. Her acting here is legendary, spewing off attempted mean behavior and a drunk demeanor only to come off as forced and phony. I can’t blame her, as the casting was not good. The sun comes not tomorrow nor anytime near this Annie.
I’ll give this one Sandy the dog out of five. Rather then giving a good reason, Annie serves a good reason why musicals should stick to their time period. Let’s hope they don’t remake The Music Man in modern day Detroit with hip-hop instead of a marching band.