April 29, 2015

Annie (2014)

Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhané Wallis, Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz, Bobby Cannavale

Let's be honest--no one really likes the original Annie. It holds a special place in many of our hearts because of the nostalgic value of seeing it as a child, and its impossibly catchy songs that many of us can still sing today. (Seriously, try getting "Tomorrow" out of your head for the next week now.) But if given the option to revisit any childhood movie, would anyone actually choose Annie?

That being said, the original seems an AFI masterpiece in comparison to this remake. For one thing, the casting was off. Not the hotly contested multi-racial aspect of it, which was a great idea to help appeal to a new audience, but the actual performances of the actors. I thought Cameron Diaz would have nailed this part, considering her hilarious performance in the overall disappointing Bad Teacher, but she looked to be on the verge of laughter most of the time she was spitting out her lines. She's also not nearly repulsive enough to make her flirting scenes funny or desperate. She mostly seemed like she was doing a skit about a drunk high school mean girl or something.

It just felt like the entire movie had been sanitized. In addition to Cameron Diaz not being mean enough, Jamie Foxx wasn't either. Daddy Warbucks had a general distain for Annie, whereas Jamie Foxx seemed mildly disgusted by germs in general, perhaps not of Annie specifically. And Annie. Sigh. Poor, sweet, Annie. I still think Quvenzhan√© Wallis is one of the most adorable young actors out there, but frankly, she was too sweet for this part. The original Annie is full of optimism, sure, but she's also kind of annoying. I mean, she's so cheerful you sort of understand why the adults in her life are so annoyed by her. Seriously. You still root for her, but she's pretty annoying. But Quvenzhan√© is too cute and sweet to annoy anyone, so instead, everyone else's mean attitude toward her seems shallow and fake. Maybe film producers feel like kids today can't handle seeing mean people in movies? (#irony in the era of internet bullying to the point of suicide)

Even the plot had been sanitized. Instead of the orphanage, Annie suddenly lives in a foster home with only 5 other girls? And they live in Harlem? Is that supposed to signify she's poor? Because last time I checked, Harlem was becoming more well known for its gentrifying yuppies and trendy bars than anything. Part of what makes Annie so remarkable is her relentless optimism in the face of such abject poverty and sadness. Annie here has lost her parents and lives in a foster home, sure, but she doesn't seem to be facing quite the same obstacles as the original. She actually seems like a pretty normal, well-adjusted girl who happens to not have parents. The whole movie lacks the desperation of the first, which again, is ironic considering the desperate performance put on by Cameron Diaz.

Pulling the movie further away from its roots was this updated "cool" soundtrack where all the singing and dancing was essentially replaced with heavy beats and an inexplicable version of Stomp! The best part of the original movie are the songs, which are either missing here or re-imagined in a way that's trying so hard to be current and hip that it reminds you of 50-year-old men wearing tight Ed Hardy t-shirts and saying "dude" while trying to high-five you. It's a musical. For children. It's inherently not a cool thing. Stop trying to make it so.

Final word: Worse than the original in almost every way except that the people are cuter.

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