Annie (2014): A foster kid, who lives with her mean foster mom, sees her life change when business tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in.
Wow. What a terrible description from IMDB. What do you get when you have a musical attempt to modernize itself by making (most) of its music pop music and combine itself with an overbearing materialistic message? A bad movie. Ya…. it’s really unfortunate because I like the musical Annie. It’s an excellent musical, but does it really need to update itself and throw in a very overbearing and dominant materialistic message? Hell no.
Ok look. I know the musical has a materialistic message too. I get that. I don’t mind any movie or anything at all having a message. What I do have problem with though is when the entertainment you’re consuming decides to bash you over the head with this theme. Here in the movie Annie, Will Gluck and company make the decision to have all the people with nothing be the nicest in the world. And they decide to have every person in the movie who would not be poor be the meanest people on the face of the planet. While some of the rich people obviously have transformations throughout the 118 minute film, everyone starts out on one side or the other.. And of course the rich people have these transformations from the poor people, too. And on top of that, the transformation that Jamie Foxx’s character goes through is a transformation that he doesn’t even remotely earn. One minute he’s the meanest person in the world who actually thinks he’s above all the poor people in the world to the point that he actually says that to a poor citizen of the city he’s running for mayor for to, just 15 minutes later, the happiest, nicest man in the world. It just sort of happens, but it’s ok because he realized that he doesn’t need material possessions to be happy. Annie taught him that in the three minutes they spent together.
Ok so we all know the theme is stupid. But let’s talk about something that’s even dumber. The acting. Quvenzhane Wallis. The girl is seriously awesome. I loved her in Beasts of the Southern Wild. However here she is only decent. She pretty much plays Annie very one-dimensionally, and then she comes up woefully short in the third act when she is asked to actually act. But, and it kills me to say this in a cast that includes some of my favorite actresses in Rose Byrne and Cameron Diaz, Wallis is the best part of this cast. Everyone besides her is overacting. It really shows when you go from a movie like Mr. Turner to this to see how bad a movie can be when everyone is overacting. Additionally, half of this cast can’t even sing! Wallis has a pretty good voice, but she did get a little bit of help at times. But Cameron Diaz can’t sing to save her life, and they didn’t even bother with Jamie Foxx. (Course Jamie Foxx didn’t really bother in the movie too.) They auto-tuned everything he sang which was frustrating. And Bobby Cannavale follows up an Emmy-winning performance in Boardwalk Empire (and one of the best characters in that show I might add) with one of the worst performances in a movie I’ve seen from someone all year. On top of all his songs being auto-tuned. I seriously think Gluck and company decided to emphasize recognizable actors over their ability to actually sing. I mean at least Russell Crow had some experience in rock bands in addition to being recognizable when he was completely outclassed in Les Miserables. Oh, speaking of Les Mis, it’s amazing how much the idea of live singing does make a difference in a moviemusical. None of the songs were actually sung on set, and it really shows. But here it’s just another knock against a fairly pathetic movie.
And yet…all of this could be forgiven if the music was good. Which shouldn’t be hard because songs like Tomorrow and Hard Knock Life are some of the most recognizable songs in the history of musical theater. But even this… the completely inept filmmakers managed to screw up, too. I will say Hard Knock Life (which is the song they used in all the advertising because they knew it was the best song they had) was pretty good with its pop makeover, but Tomorrow? Ya no. Not at all. And then there were some songs that didn’t have a pop makeover, which didn’t really make sense, then there was auto-tune everywhere and…what? How can a movie musical based on such a great musical be this bad???? Honestly the most creative part of this entire god-forsaken movie was the end credits sequence, which involved some balloons bouncing off the text that was the credits. Yup. That’s it. I’m done. And what’s sad is that they tried. It wasn’t like Gluck just realized that he bit off more than he could chew and then just stopped caring. No. They really tried to make a good movie. They just failed on basically every level. Oh! And I almost forgot to mention how insensitive this movie is! For example, Annie gets a dog who likes running in circles. The New York city press asks her what she’s going to name the dog. They then add the dog kind of looks like a HURRICANE running around in circles. So let’s call the dog SANDY! Ya! Cue all the audience laughter that’s gonna come out of that joke! And not only does anyone in the movie not be like uh….that’s a little insensitive, Annie, but the press eats it up! Ya, too soon guys. Way to soon. God this movie sucks. Ok now I’m really done hope you enjoyed my little rant on this disaster of a movie. I sure didn’t.
The Critique: An absolute train wreck. A clinic on how not to make a movie musical.
The Recommendation: Haven’t heard this one from me in a while: avoid like the plague!
The Verdict: 1.5/10 Basically Unwatchable
What's sad is that Annie will absolutely be up for some awards, like the song categories, so I can't just forget about this movie. Sigh....