**** out of 5
Rated PG for some mild language and rude humor
Article first published as Movie Review: ‘Annie’ (2014) on Blogcritics.
Believe it or not, co-writer/director Will Gluck’s new Annie
is actually the third film version of the Thomas Meehan musical based on
Harold Gray’s original comic strip. We all know John Huston’s 1982
version, but before the 2014 film came a Disney TV Movie in 1999
directed by Chicago-helmer Rob Marshall. What’s really
interesting, is that Marshall also has a big screen musical coming out
this holiday season for Disney as he trots Into the Woods. Unfortunately, there’s only one you should see, and even more surprising, it’s Annie. For anyone worried about the lyrical changes or casting choices, this is still the Annie we all know and love, through and through.
this charmingly updated version, Quvenzhané Wallis is our “don’t call
her little orphan” Annie, living as a foster child in the hard knock
grips of the alcoholic Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz). Annie spends her
afternoons sitting outside an Italian restaurant on Friday nights,
hoping to catch sight of her parents who left here there as a baby with a
note that someday they will come back for her. Knowing that the sun
will come out tomorrow, Annie lives life to the fullest, but gets the
opportunity of a lifetime when billionaire cellphone-mogul Will Stacks
(Jamie Foxx) takes her in after a video of him saving her from being run
over goes viral and his assistants Guy (Bobby Cannavale) and Grace
(Rose Byrne) advise him to use this to get a head in his race for New
York City mayor.
For anyone worried about their beloved Annie in the hands of
the raunchy Gluck escaping unscathed, have no fear. The songs are
everything you remember and there’s even some great choreography with
the film moving at a rapid pace to the finish line. The most surprising
aspect of this charming update, is that Gluck — and co-writer Aline
Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) — make changes that work in
the film’s favor. Extraneous characters have been cut and some new
songs fill the gap in the third act, with Wallis delivering the huge
showstopper “Opportunity” at a gala.
Annie is one of three big screen musicals to hit theaters
this year, and it’s undoubtedly the best. You’ll leave with a big fat
grin on your face and the songs stuck in your head for days. Or years,
considering we already know most of the songs. But even the new
additions — while being strictly modern — never feel out of place. Annie is the most fun you can have with the whole family this holiday season.
Photos courtesy Columbia Pictures