Annie

Out Now On-Demand

It's a hard knock life.

Jay Z-produced remake of the classic stage musical with Oscar-nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhané Wallis as little orphan Annie. A wealthy businessman and politician, Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) comes to the aid of Annie, who lives in an orphanage run by the tyrannical Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz). From the director of Easy A.

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Directed by

Written by

Producers

Comedy, Drama, Kids & Family, Kids, Musical

118mins

Rating: PG

USA

Annie 2.0 has been tweaked with an urban, social media-savvy audience in mind, but rides roughshod over the basics of musical comedy. Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) is a darling as Annie, packing buckets of moxie, and Jamie Foxx is the perfect new-era Daddy Warbucks — bluff germaphobe and cellphone billionaire Will Stacks — but that’s about where the good decisions end. It’s a mystery why director Will Gluck (Friends With Benefits, Easy A) opted to take on the classic children’s musical when so little care has been given to the rudiments of the genre.

Soundtrack originals like ‘Maybe’ and ‘Tomorrow’ work quite well with a pop/r&b update, while‘Hard Knock Life’ is a fresh compromise between the original and the1998 Jay-Z track that sampled it. But the lack of skilled choreography and a cast heavy with non-singers that have been auto-tuned to within an inch of their lives lent an overall mediocrity that even accomplished voices like Foxx’s couldn’t lift.

The greatest insult comes care of Cameron Diaz as foster carer Miss Hannigan (orphan is a dirty word in this retelling), who mistakes yelling for comedy and is unfit to sniff the sublime Carol Burnett’s shoes, let alone fill them. Rose Byrne is competent if unremarkable as Stacks’ assistant and Annie-sympathiser Grace, and smaller comedy roles like the ‘kidnappers’, played with such relish in the original by Bernadette Peters and Tim Curry, are relegated to extras.

Gluck’s vision was fine but his execution positively anemic. Kids will love the wall-to-wall singing regardless — my panel of experts aged four and six did — but parents with fond memories of the original may need to grin and bear.

Variety (USA)

press

While there are several possible good reasons to remake the Depression-set musical in 2014, none of them seem to have informed Gluck’s overblown yet undernourished treatment.

Hollywood Reporter

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The sun'll come out tomorrow, by which time this toxic mess should be forgotten.

Time Out New York

press

Perhaps the most hypercurrent thing about Gluck’s film is how it espouses the value of family while actually celebrating products as the only true form of modern connection.

Dissolve (USA)

press

Tonally varied to the point of discombobulation.

New York Times

press

The cast would have been better served by a middle school production overseen by a creatively frustrated, inappropriately ambitious drama teacher than by this hacky, borderline-incompetent production...

Empire (UK)

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A mushy mix of sentiment and some off-key singing lets the air out of this beloved musical's limo tires.

a musical overdo

The film is like the actress Cameron Diaz in it, waaaaay overdo...