Annie (2014)
December 30, 2014 5:04 AM - Subscribe

A young foster child (NOT an orphan!) is plucked from an oncoming car by a wealthy businessman, and both of their lives are changed.

Saw this over the holidays with my family, and for the most part really enjoyed it. It's a mainstream entertainment, for sure, but it has some really artful touches. Quvenzhané Wallis is utterly charming and human and you simply can't not care about what happens to her. If nothing else, this movie is prompting a rewatch of "Beasts of the Southern Wild" at our house this weekend.

The Cameron Diaz subplot is a weak spot, and the movie is about 30 minutes longer than it needs to be. Also, there's a ridiculous chase scene/subplot that could easily have been shed. But again, the strong parts are very strong - the opening number, with the girls in their room trying to find their optimism, is fantastic. And I absolutely loved Annie's presentation to her class at the very beginning.
posted by jbickers (16 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I thought this was fairly light and mildly entertaining. If you saw Will Gluck's other hit Easy A, that's about the right ballpark. I didn't think it was so good that I blame anyone for disliking it. Just inoffensive with some nice moments if you want family stuff to watch.

That said, I am flabbergasted by people who say, "The original was better!" Have you actually watched the original film? It was a stilted, claustrophobic turd. And Aileen Quinn is the uberultra paradigm of annoying child actors.

Even if someone doesn't think the new Annie is good (which is an entirely reasonable POV), I have no idea how, outside of the vagaries of nostalgia, they could possibly think it wasn't at least better than the earlier adaptation.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:18 AM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

I usually like movie musicals, and I thought everyone did a great job with the singing/dancing, but for some reason the pacing of the movie felt a little off. It felt like a normal movie with chunks of music breaks thrown in randomly, instead of a musical movie with music spread evenly throughout. I seem to recall the second half of the film seemed like all plot, little music, then it ended with a song and it just felt a bit weird.
posted by mathowie at 10:31 AM on December 30, 2014

I loved this movie. Sure, there are things I could nitpick about it, but it's so good-natured and so successful on its own terms that I don't want to. It's been a lousy year; unalloyed cheerfulness is welcome right about now.

And I thought the first couple of minutes were perfect. It struck me as an affectionate tip-of-the-hat to Annies past, and a reminder that the other versions still exist if that's what you want, while making it clear what kind of movie this one was going to be.
posted by Shmuel510 at 10:37 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

The character Harold Gray is a nod to LOA's creator.

Guy and Hannigan meet at the Leapin' Lizard lounge.
posted by brujita at 12:45 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I liked the first half, before she moved in with Jamie Foxx. I think the movie did a good job of garnering sympathy for her hopeless Friday night vigils and her camaraderie with the other kids. But after the move I kept being distracted by the showroom-esque apt with invisible maids and no chef. How are you feeding and caring for this child?

Wallis, though, was engaging and charming throughout. I want her to win all the awards.

I was surprised by the subplot about the capabilities of the phone company. Foxx's speech about anyone being able to make it if they worked hard enough was also surprising (and tone deaf?) and just weird--in a movie about a foster kid who wouldn't have made it if she hadn't lucked out.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 8:46 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

That said, I am flabbergasted by people who say, "The original was better!" Have you actually watched the original film? It was a stilted, claustrophobic turd. And Aileen Quinn is the uberultra paradigm of annoying child actors.

I haven't seen it, but most of the comparison I've seen on social media has been that the singing and dancing is nowhere near as good. Most of the adults in the original movie were serious triple-threats (Carol Burnett, Tim Curry, Bernadette freaking Peters!) and the kids were amazing singers and dancers too. Compare "Hard Knock Life" from the original to the new version - the original is so much better: more energy, better choreography, etc.

That said, Quvenzhané Wallis is amazing, and it's always a good thing when whitebread cultural things like this are ... made less whitebread. So I will probably see it.
posted by lunasol at 11:30 AM on December 31, 2014

I'm not claiming that the original Annie was fabulous, but the Annie for which I'm nostalgic is the musical, not the movie. I think the Broadway cast recording may have been the first album I ever owned, and I must have played it a million times. Even as a kid, I thought the movie was disappointing.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:03 AM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have you seen the 1999 made-for-TV adaptation, ArbitraryAndCapricious? Of the three recorded versions, it comes the closest to the Broadway original.
posted by Shmuel510 at 8:13 AM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was charmed by this. Is is perfect? No. But it's a nice update to the original, where it's inspired by but not beholden to it. The singing and dancing isn't quite as good, but it is fine. (Some of the dancing is due to the choreography which is less musical-ish in the new version.) I think it's immensely successful at what it is trying to do, and I find the reviews are not taking that so much into account.

I loved the weird Moonquake subplot.
posted by jeather at 8:28 AM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also I would have been annoyed by the Miss Hannigan sudden reversal if it had not been clear from the second that we knew the nice guy who was on Dexter was into her that she would end up on the side of good.
posted by jeather at 8:30 AM on January 1, 2015

For those of you who have seen it - I've heard from some other people that it seems to be kind of making fun of or deliberately trying really hard to be different from original/musical Annie. Is this accurate? I'm trying to decide whether or not to go.
posted by corb at 12:15 PM on January 2, 2015

NB: I don't mean just the casting, which should be obvs but sadly is not.
posted by corb at 12:15 PM on January 2, 2015

I wouldn't say they are making fun of original Annie, but they are deliberately updating it (plot and music) and not being that faithful.

I thought it was charming and recommend seeing it.
posted by jeather at 12:38 PM on January 2, 2015

I wouldn't say it makes fun of the original. (There's one direct reference to it, at the very start, for which see my first comment in this thread.)

I wouldn't say it's trying hard to be different just for the sake of being different; rather, it's a film of its own that uses the original as an inspiration, but is otherwise doing its own thing.
posted by Shmuel510 at 12:42 PM on January 2, 2015

I feel weird saying this, but I was glad that the soundtrack's new version of "Hard Knock Life" didn't try to evoke producer Jay-Z's famous track of the same name. I did not need to be watching a kid's movie and hear Hova in my head saying, "If you with me Mama, rub on your tits and whatnot."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:36 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

The AV Club puts the soundtrack on their 2014 Least Essential Albums, and has this to say about Cameron Diaz' efforts:
the album should prove indispensable to fans of noted songstress Cameron Diaz ... including a duet with Bobby Cannavale on which he sounds a lot like Tony Bennett, singing with some woman who’s shouting at Tony Bennett.
I haven't seen or heard the movie and no opinion as yet of Ms. Diaz as a singer, but I thought that turn of phrase was funny.
posted by chazlarson at 10:36 AM on January 5, 2015

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