Annie – Review
On paper, the idea of remaking Annie is borderline idiotic. Except that it’s not actually a remake. You see, as established in pop culture as the eighties movie is; most of us either forget or are just unaware that the property began life as a twenties comic strip, became a Broadway musical in the seventies and only then became the film we now so associate with the name. The point remains however that 1982’s Annie is flat-out iconic, and remaking any iconic musical is almost always a fool’s errand. After all, the remakes of both Fame and Footloose largely failed to garner praise from either critics or audiences, so what could possibly set Annie apart?
The answer is that writer/director Will Gluck simply avoids the pitfall of aspiring to iconic levels and instead focuses on updating the story for a generation of young twenty-first century girls to admire and enjoy. Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis takes on the titular role of New York orphan Annie, here rescued from the path of a speeding truck by billionaire-turned-aspiring mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx playing billionaire Jamie Foxx). With the enormous PR potential of his encounter with Annie blossoming into solid political capital, Stacks takes the young orphan in; but soon their budding familial relationship comes under threat from forces both outside and in Stacks’ political camp.
Cheery, upbeat and the very definition of family friendly, there’s an air of goofy fun from the very start of Annie; an air you can’t escape at any point during the film’s (unnoticeably long) two hour runtime. Young girls will fall for the movie hook, line and sinker; but more importantly parents will enjoy it as well. With the now-classic musical numbers lyrically updated to fit the times – and decidedly more hip-hoppy, it should be noted – there’s a thrust and momentum to the movie that quite exceeds the level of a simple flash-in-the-pan remake. Wallis is affable enough in the lead, Foxx is called upon to do nothing he hasn’t done ably before; while Byrne is an absolute trooper in the surrogate mother/personal assistant role – clearly having an infectiously good time at the centre of it all.
On an artistic level, Annie’s unlikely to change the course of narrative cinema; it will however set the box office alight over the holiday season, the perfect musical outing for a family with young children. Admittedly, Jamie Foxx is the only cast member it seems capable of carrying a tune; but with the movie as out-and-out fun as it is, you’ll be enjoying yourself far too much to care.
Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.
Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne