Wallis Shines in Meh ‘Annie’

Annie2014PosterThere’s a point about halfway through the 2014 remake of “Annie” where Cameron Diaz’s character says, “people love musicals”. Well that may be true in most circumstances, just not this time around.

“Annie” stars Quvenzhané Wallis as the title character, an orphan who desires a home almost as much as she enjoys erupting into spontaneous song and dance. Jamie Foxx plays a mayor candidate who starts to hang out with Annie as a publicity stunt, and Rose Byrne plays his assistance. “Easy A” director Will Gluck writes and directs here.

The trailers for “Annie” looked awkward, painful and just plain awful. Well I am happy to report that it is none of these things…but it still isn’t a great film.

First things first, Quvenzhané Wallis is great and lovable as Annie. We know Wallis can act (12 years old and she already has an Oscar nomination) and she carries the film here. Without her charm and cuteness, I don’t think Annie would be watchable. She has nice chemistry with Foxx, too, which aids the film.

Wallis and some creative uses of everyday objects to implement an infectious beat by Gluck are really the only bright spots of the film, however. There are some parts that are lazy, some that are boring and some that are cliché or contrived.

Example of the lazy: there is a part (shown in the trailer) when Foxx saves Annie from being hit by a truck. Later it is said that a man recorded the incident on his cell phone, yet when that clip is shown, it is just the exact same footage used earlier in the film, including the uses of different angles. You know, not possible when you record on your phone.

Example of boring: the film is two hours long. A child’s film is two hours long; there is no excuse for that. There are points that aren’t needed that just add to the run time, such as Annie and Foxx’s character attending a movie premiere for nearly 15 minutes.

And example of the cliché: when the film is approaching the climax, you know exactly what is going to happen with all the characters, assuming you didn’t guess it when you saw the trailer. Let’s just say I saw this movie a decade ago when it was called “Like Mike”.

The music is at times toe-tapping, sure. Wallis has a great voice and New York City makes for a vibrant backdrop to some of the musical numbers. But there are other times where the singing does not work, including one cringe-inducing, painfully awkwardly obvious lip syncing by Diaz. When her little rendition is completed, a character compliments her on her singing.

This made me think two things: first, that character is clearly tone deaf. And second, this means everyone in the world of “Annie” can hear each character when they break out into song, which makes a number when Annie is running down the streets of NYC singing in people’s faces pretty awkward.

“Annie” is drenched with fluff, cuteness and product placement (a trend that is brought up in the film in a moment of satirical self-deprecation), and while it isn’t a great movie, it is far from the disaster that it could have been. If you’re forced to see it with your kids then you won’t be looking at your phone the whole time, but aside from humming “the sun will come out tomorrow”, there is little you’ll take away from “Annie”.

Critics Rating: 4/10

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