Do you remember hearing little orphan Annie tell us it’s a hard knock life? In December 2014, the faces may have changed, but the story is still the same… ♪♪ “It’s a hard knock life, for us!” ♪♪
Directing this 118 minute comedy/drama/family/musical is Will Gluck.
Singing their way through this one is: Jamie Foxx as Will Stacks, Quvenzhane Wallis as Annie, Rose Byrne as Grace, Bobby Cannavale as Guy, Cameron Diaz as Hannigan, David Zayas as Lou, Zoe Margaret Colletti as Tessie, Nicolette Pierini as Mia, Eden Ducan-Smith as Isabella, Amanda Troya as Pepper and Adewale Akinnoye-Agbaje as Nash.
All Annie wants to do is find her parents. The only thing she has to go on is the half of a locket her parents left her with when she was little, and a receipt from a restaurant. Yet, with that half of a locket around her neck and a heart full of hope she knows one day she’ll find her parents and make that locket whole again. However, while she’s searching for them, life has given her a chance to find somethings else. Cellphone mogul, Will Stacks, is trying to run for mayor and the little girl who’s life he saved yesterday could help him win that spot. To make him more likeable to “the people”, Stacks invites Annie to have lunch with him and before he knows it, Annie is staying with him. Just until Annie finds her parents that is!
Who knew a simple little comic strip that Harold Gray created back in 1924, called Little Orphan Annie, would create such a sensation and become the icon it has in the entertainment industry? Come to find out, Gray’s comic strip took it’s name from a poem written 1885 by James Whitcomb, called Little Orphan Annie. Now fast forward, the little orphan gets a 15 minute radio show in 1930, it’s first film adaptation in 1932 and a Broadway musical in 1977. Over the course of time a few more films have been added to the list of film adaptations, which now include Annie (2014) which was produced by Will Smith and Jay-Z.
Truthfully, I have to admit that I didn’t roll into this one with an open mind. I’m not a big fan of older films getting a… modern spin or an update if you will. Mainly because I can’t say I’ve seen many that were able to pull it off very well. However, I’m surprised to say, writers Will Gluck and Aline Brosh McKenna pulled off a well written updated screenplay that did justice to Annie. The story is still the same, but names and faces have changed. Instead of Daddy Warbucks, we now have Will “Stacks” and our lovable little orphan is… a foster child. Overall, I think they did really good with the update, while giving plenty of respectful nods to the original material.
The playthrough was pretty entertaining and even though I’m not a musical fan, I actually enjoyed the music that Greg Kurstin came up with. Of course you’ll hear some of the original songs (with more of hip beat) that fans love to hear, but you’ll also get a bit of a treat with this remake. Come to find out, 3 new songs where added to the playlist, Who Am I, Moonquake Lake, and The City’s Yours are Annie 2014 originals. Myself, I seriously dug The City’s Yours, sang by Fox and Wallis.
Unfortunately, not all the music was a treat to listen to. I found it pretty painful and hard to make it through Little Girls sung by Diaz, and Easy Street, which is a duet done by Diaz and Cannavale. I’ve never heard either of these individuals sing before so I don’t know if this was an angle played for the film to help show the shadiness of the characters Whereas Fox’s sound had a good tone and clean “nice guy” sound to it. Diaz and Cannavale are the shady trouble makers of the film so their sounds are muddy and off tone… or these two just can’t sing. You decide!
The cast as a whole does some great work with their characters, but Wallis (who would make an Annie-ette proud) definitely stood out with her stand up job at keeping Annie lovable and fun.
Fun fact (not really): originally Williow Smith (daughter of Will Smith) was going to play the part of Annie. However, due to the length of time it sometimes takes to get a film off the ground and running, Williow Smith dropped out and Wallis got her chance to sing about tomorrow.
Summary : Annie fans won't be too upset at this modern re-telling of an old tale. Musical fans may even want to join together in the isles dancing and singing along. I doubt that, but life can be surprising when music is involved. Either way, this one is worth the time and money to catch. Bonus, it's something the family can enjoy together... if everyone's into musicals that is.
It's rated PG