Annie (PG)

Directed by Will Gluck
Starring Quvenzhene Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz, Bobby Carnavale

What do critics know? While not a classic, this breezy update is far better than the critical hammering it got might suggest.
I love musicals but Annie was never a favourite of mine. However, Quvenzhane Wallis was simply astounding in Beasts of the Southern Wild, Rose Byrne is reliably excellent in comedies like Bridesmaids or dramas like Damages. Add in Jamie Foxx who has a music background and Will Gluck directing (Easy A is up there with Clueless and Mean Girls as a top high school comedy classic IMO) and the pedigree is good. Developed by Will and Jada Smith, this film replaces red haired precocious orphan Annie with sassy streetwise Wallis, and Daddy Warbucks becomes mobile phone millionaire Will Stacks who needs a popularity boost when running for mayor. Political spin doctor Bobby Carnavale pushes Will to improve his public image by temporarily fostering Annie away from the boozy Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz going way OTT). The musical numbers are relatively fun but forgettable, however there is plenty of nice witty dialogue and generous performances from Foxx and Byrne, allowing Wallis to shine. She is an appealing lead, although not totally at ease at times. She throws herself into the musical numbers with gusto, but isn't an especially gifted singer. What she lacks in musical ability, however, she makes up for in likability and charisma. I saw it in a theatre packed with children who all enjoyed it a lot.
A fun and breezy film with decent performances, but not a classic. 6/10

December 2014.

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