Directed by Will Gluck
Starring Quvenzhane Wallis, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne
It's the hard knock life for anyone hoping this modern-day adaptation of the classic Broadway musical Annie lives up to the saccharine delight of the original. The title girl in question is finely played by Quvenzhane Wallis, but her surroundings drown any possible momentum her cuteness could provide. What we're left with is a failed attempt at modernizing a classic that was fine being left alone.
Annie, in case you've somehow missed this cultural milestone, is a sunny firecracker of a young girl who happens to be an orphan. Well, actually, in this version she's a foster child. She doesn't let a little unhappiness ruin her day and she never leaves home without her smile. Despite living under the rule of the evil Ms. Hannigan, Annie explores the perils of the big city in the hopes of finding her parents. When she crosses paths with the rich Daddy Warbucks (or, Will Stacks, as he's known here), she finds an unconditional love to fill the void. Carried by catchy and memorable songs (less as much in this one as with the original version), Annie is a delightful story.
With material that should be kind-hearted and inspiring, the saddest part of Annie is how the heart of the story is left on the floor. In an attempt to update an already classic tale, director Will Gluck instead creates a materialistic farce of the classic story we all know and love. There are moments that shine, like many of Wallis' nuances, but the majority of the movie feels overdone, overworked, and overly not-enjoyable. The most glaring misstep is a tie between Cameron Diaz's unfortunate portrayal of Miss Hannigan and the dialogue she's forced to say. In an effort to create a topical comedy, Gluck has overly-dated the picture leaving any chance of it feeling timeless on the dirty welcome mat.
Sony has had a hard time of late, so the success of Annie will be something they'll be watching closely. Too bad this one isn't likely to lift them out of their professional and financial woes, but maybe the few smiles it'll bring will be worth the payoff. There's no denying the charm of Wallis and, despite it being totally wrong for her, Diaz does give it her all. It's so bad it'll make you flinch, but it will also leave you humming the original versions of the classic songs.
Sometimes it's better to not mess with an original that work. Just ask Coke.
Runtime: 118 minutes