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Annie (2014)


 
Originally I was going to see this in theaters, but that didn’t go according to plan and instead I settled for the eventual release to home entertainment. Though there are some minor quibbles a viewer could argue against this film all in all, it would have been worth said theater trip. The classic story remains intact, but not without a few twists. This version introduces us to young Annie Bennett (Quvenzhané Wallis), a girl in the care of a foster home who refuses to give up on the dream her parents are still looking for her. Every Friday night she visits the one place she thinks she might find them, a restaurant. She has a note written on the back of a receipt tab and armed with half a locket she’s determined they’ll return someday as the note promises. For now, she has to live with the crabby Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz) and her four foster sisters. But a twist of fate is about to change her life forever when the wealthy, up-and-coming politician Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) suddenly takes a political interest in Annie's well-being.  

Filmmaking today seems to spend a lot of time reimagining classics. With exception to one or two, I think it’s a brilliant strategy. Not only for selfish reasons - I tend to prefer modern filmmaking, also because the movie business seems to do a really good job re-making the oldies. This darling gem is no different. Annie is every bit as delightful as its trailers promised it would be. As a whole, the production is nearly perfect. When breaking down some likes vs. dislikes, I have to confess that I’d have liked seeing someone other than Jamie Foxx in the role of Stacks (though I don’t know who), but he does a great job regardless of personal feelings, so much so that the film certainly wasn’t ruined. In fact, it is quite the opposite.  
 
 
I’m kind of particular about musicals in that I have to be in the right movie-frame-of-mind to watch them. There is just something about seeing characters randomly burst into song that makes me all, “that-looks-so-weird.” That thought is anything but true in this adaptation! The film manages to put in all of the songs we came to love and adore from Annie without seeming awkward or as if it was trying too hard. Instead the music blends effortlessly with the script and dialogue. Then there are the song and dance numbers. Though stylish and cute, these also don’t come across as “too Broadway” or over the top (with exception to the closing credits scene and there is a cutely choreographed "Hard Knock Life" with the girls). Instead they’re integrated into the movie as if they belong rather than be a stumbling block. I’m really unsure how else to describe it other than that. The opening lines of each song were “natural” and every symphonic moment somehow fit each of its appropriate moments, which is exactly what any musical should strive for. One musical adaptation really disappointed me from recent years and since I’m basically alone in that, we’ll leave said musical unnamed.    


Beyond that, the film is just plain and simple darling. The young actress who played Annie was fantastic and I always enjoy seeing Cameron Diaz in films – especially a role like this where she can play the not-so-nice girl and show a different side. The scenes showing the unconditional love the “neighborhood” people have for Annie are sweet as is the relationship that blossoms between her and Stacks. She makes him better and he gives her a place, a home, a family to feel safe with. It’s precious, really. Speaking of the little orphan girl, the attitude Annie adopts in this script is perfect. Somehow she always takes the “higher road” even though she’s the child. Also deserving of a shout-out is Rose Byrne who plays Grace. She's a lovely character who doesn't get as much credit as she should yet “completes” the cast. The musical arrangements and re-imaginings are charm personified and everyone (thankfully) does a nice job with their vocals. In wrapping up, I will say, the ending was a bit… outlandish and too easily finalized in comparison to the rest of the film, though again, it doesn’t tarnish the otherwise sparkling sweetheart story we are left with. It’s got style and reminds us that people can change, while making sure we keep even the bad days in perspective. There is one thing Annie's tomorrow always promises. It's those famous words - you know them - aren't you humming the tune right now? *smile* Annie makes us believe in that and then some.
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Rissi
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  1. Good review, Rissi! Even though I have almost the complete opposite opinion of this movie, you definitely made me see what was appealing about it to you. Still, personally I found it to be a pretty lifeless attempt to bring the story into the modern day.

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    1. Bummer! I'm so sorry you didn't care for this one. You know how sometimes you see the "right movie" at the "right time"? I think that might have been the case with this film. I "needed" to see something cute, happy and sweet, and that's just what this one was. But I understand how some who loved the original story might not care for this one. Nothing wrong with that. It's always fun to read what everyone else thought! Thanks for sharing, Sarah! :)

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  2. I've been really unsure as to whether or not I should see this. I've never been all that fond of Annie in general, but I think I'd like to see the remake. I quite like Quvenzhane Wallis and Rose Byrne, so it'll probably be worth it for them, at least! :)

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    1. I totally understand that, Rachel. If you're not all that fond of the story, it might not be the "right movie" for you. I think I just "needed" to see something wholesome, and cute, and bubbly, which is exactly what this film is! If you do see this - Quvenzhane and Rose are fabulous! - I would love to know what you thought. :)

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  3. I have been kinda on the fence about watching it or not, but I think that I might rent it this week. I have been under the weather, and this sounds like a perfect stuck in bed movie!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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    1. If you do see it, I hope you enjoy, Missie! It really is the "perfect" little ray of sunshine for anyone looking for a happy-go-lucky kind of movie. Feel better. :)

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  4. Awesome review, Rissi! I wasn't expecting to love this one, so I was really happy when it turned out to be so good. My sisters and I were singing these songs for weeks afterward- my dad even made a point to say he would be buying earplugs soon if we didn't stop. Lol! "Darling" perfectly describes this movie- and I also love what you said about Rose Byrne. Totally agree! :)

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    1. I was glad this one wound up being as entertaining as it was, Bekah. Some days call for a cute film without making us think and that's exactly what this film accomplished. I was like you! I had those songs stuck in my head for days after the movie - they're such happy songs. :)

      Thanks for commenting and reading! Always glad to chat with you. :)

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  5. Finally, someone else who actually thought this a worthwhile movie. It wasn't anything spectacular, but it didn't claim to be. I really liked it:)

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    1. Yay! I'm glad to meet someone else who enjoyed it as well, Olivia. I didn't realize it had such negative thoughts behind it. That being said, like you say, it was just what it promised, which was a good time. :)

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