Verdict: 1.5 / 5
Annie keeps the “American Dream” alive, with her singing and dancing, bright smiles and precocious charm, in this 21st century reboot.
1982, 1999 and now 2015 has brought us a story of an foster child set on being reunited with her long-lost parents. Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis), living in a home with other tweens under the comically bossy, money-grabbing drunked Miss Hannigen (Cameron Diaz), gets a taste of the “New York City Good-Life” when she has a fortunate run-in with mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx). Stacks’s assistants (Guy – Bobby Cannavale and Grace – Rose Byrne) see an opportunity for Annie’s sympathy-story to add to the campaign propaganda.
This is a musical family comedy, so there is the expected portion of singing and some dancing, but don’t expect any High School Musical choreography and Mickey Mouse Club singing. The old favourite songs have a current feel: some hip-hop influences, some heart-felt modern ballads and even a vivacious solo from Cameron Diaz. The best performance by far, as to be expected, is from Jamie Foxx, hitting those Usher-style falsettos and that subtle Jackson groove in his few dance steps. Overall the performances, acting as well as singing, are quite stiff (especailly Quvenzhané’s), but towards the end it feels a bit more natural.
Unfortunately other than that there are few positive points: there are so many unforgivable continuity errors and there are only a few hilarious moments, most notably when Ashton Kutcher, Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis have a cameo. Sadly most of the really funny moments were revealed in the trailer. Cameron Diaz does a good job when she brings out her funny side, and her crazy-hot scale is right up there in the good zone.
As far as musicals go, if you are not comfortable with them, then you will find this extremely cheesy and awkward. They break the cardinal rule of musicals that separates the musical items from the characters’ group consciousness. This break turns the film around into making fun of itself, and creates insincerity, not a wise choice.
The plot is very archaic and thin, but the sentiment is relevant at the end. The premise is a little bit politically incorrect: poor black orphan raised by cruel white-trash foster mom, with Greek green-grocer, foreign national government employee and implications that the lavish lifestyle of the corrupt is what is to be desired by all. However this is an easy-going feel good family musical, nothing spectacular, but something different. For some reason you will leave feeling chipper and very American, but yet poorer and deeply unsatisfied. Kind of like when you leave your local McDonalds at 2am after a super-sized snack.