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There’s a moment in Annie that really summed up my opinion on this truly worthless film. During one of the film’s several montages, we see Annie and Mr Stacks doing a variety of “fun” activities together whilst being photographed by paparazzi. A scrolling Twitter feed appears on screen filled with brain-dead messages before stopping on a tweet from Katy Perry. This product placement, because that’s what it is, perfectly demonstrates what a cynical cash-in this remake is.
Originally envisioned as a vehicle for producer Will Smith’s daughter before she stepped down from the project (a wise move) Annie feels almost dirty. Every time the film breaks into a supposedly bopping musical number you can’t help but notice the ulterior motives, which are rather nefarious to say the least.
An hour in, Annie made a “hilarious” meta joke about how “product placement is the only thing keeping the movie industry going” during a woefully unfunny parody of Twilight featuring cameos from Mila Kunis and Rihanna. My opinion on the film was solidified and in the following hour I was given no reason to give Annie a second chance. Unfortunately the intolerably cynical product placement is merely the first problem on a laundry list of unforgiveable sins that Annie commits.
Several of the songs from the multiple film adaptations and the original Broadway production have become classics in their own right and it’s fair to say that this latest adaptation butchers them all. It’s not just the liberal use of auto tune which results in bleeding ears, it’s also producer Jay Z’s obsession with making every song “hip and modern”. All the songs just blend into one another, none of them have a unique identity.
The acting, if you can call it that, is excruciatingly painful. It appears that Beasts of the Southern Wild was somewhat of a fluke because Quvenzhané Wallis is disappointingly poor here. The whole movie rests on Annie being a loveable compelling character and that never really comes to fruition in this adaption.
Jamie Foxx plays Mr Stacks (get it? Because he’s rich!) a businessman who takes Annie into his home in order to use her to advance his political campaign. Foxx doesn’t do anything particularly offensive but the script really hampers his ability to give a good performance and ultimately the writing is too much to overcome. Rose Byrne plays Mr Stack’s assistant, who in a rather shocking twist has a crush on her boss – certainly didn’t see that coming. Byrne’s character is just so bland and dull that even if she put in an Oscar worthy performance, which for the record she doesn’t, she’d still be forgotten before you’ve even left the theatre.
The worst of a truly bad bunch is far and away Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan the owner of the foster home. Diaz plays the role in such a comically evil way that even a pantomime actor would criticize her for lacking subtlety. She’s groan inducingly bad that “playing to the cheap seats” doesn’t even begin to describe it.
As previously mentioned the script is absolutely dire. The whole film is obsessed with being modern, whether it’s throwing in countless references to Twitter or adding in an ear grinding amount of urban vernacular. Which just begs the question: why was Annie remade? It’s a question that I still don’t have an answer to. Other than the same reason as ever awful remake: money.
Annie is an exhausting film, running at almost two hours. Within twenty minutes I was counting down the seconds till I could go do something else such as balance a cheque book or have a dental appointment, both of which I can easily recommend over watching this soulless train wreck of a movie.