Annie might not have been one of the best musicals ever originally, but what did it ever do to deserve this?
I'll go ahead and mention the two things in this movie I can speak positively about, and then get on to the really good stuff: First, Quvenzhané Wallis' Annie. She is what saved this movie from getting a record-low score from me. And secondly, I laughed at a few things. Some that I was supposed to, and some that maybe I wasn't.
|Favorite character? Sandy.|
With listing the cast, I feel like it shouldn't be about "who did good with what" and "who did bad with what," but more of a "who do I feel most sorry for" kind of thing. In that case, first place goes to Rose Byrne, because I've actually witnessed her do so much better. (In this case I also feel sorry for myself, because I was actually looking forward to her Grace.) Then, Jamie Foxx as Will Stacks (for Annie fans that would be Daddy Warbucks), but only a little bit. Nothing at all for Cameron Diaz and her Miss Hannigan, even though I usually enjoy her in movies; she just didn't do anything here she hasn't done before. For Quvenzhané Wallis I'm not sure. Her performance was charming, and the best of few redeeming qualities in this movie -- she was cute and endearing when the script didn't get in the way -- but still going from a Oscar nomination from your first movie, to this, is a big step down, even for an eleven-year-old.
|Not that it was her fault...|
Songs were redone, given a modern beat, and missing a few verses at best. I would say that at worst they were missing altogether, but now I'm thinking that at least the missing ones weren't butchered into a bunch of fluffy pop nothingness. Really, the worst of it was when the songs were almost unrecognizable for being changed so much, like my personal favorite, "Easy Street." I'm going to hold a funeral for that one later this week. And when the plot needed a song (and I use the word "needed" very loosely) whole new songs were made up to fit the bill. Those, while still terrible in the same way the rest of the songs were, at least didn't offend my sentimentality.
And I haven't even mentioned the singing yet! Auto-tuned into oblivion, but for some reason everyone sounded breathy. The speaking lines were clearer every time, immediately turned to wheezing the moment the peppy beat got going. There was as exception to this amazing phenomenon -- in no one. Okay, Jamie Foxx didn't get it as bad as others, and the girl playing Annie's smallest friend sounded good. She got to sing two short lines.
|Yay! Dancing! And singing!|
Then the plot was played with by the same talented artist (read: gleefully evil kid with a magnifying glass and an ant hill) who rewrote the music. I won't even get into it, because it could last for weeks. Let's just say that for the first quarter, things were changed to fit into the 21st century, and the rest was changed to fit the "Just For The Heck Of It" century. After that, there apparently was still some time to fill to meet the required just-under-two-hours-because-it's-a-musical-and-musicals-need-extra-time quota. About 20 minutes in fact -- or at least that's how long the filler of many montages of Annie having tons of fun with her new life as a rich kid felt.
If you feel the need to explain in your movie what a "hard-knock life" is, you probably shouldn't be titling your movie "Annie." But here we are anyway -- "Annie" for the new generation, complete with upbeat, revamped, auto-tuned songs, a modernly "relevant" political statement, and loads and loads of noise and color -- it has everything except the ingredients for a satisfying, fun, heartwarming musical.