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Annie 1Reel Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild language and rude humor
Released in Theaters: Dec. 19, 2014
Best for Ages: 8+
Genre: Family, Musical
Runtime: 118 minutes
Directed by: Will Gluck
Studio: Sony Pictures Releasing/Columbia Pictures
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhane Wallis, Cameron Diaz
Official Site: Annie

SYNOPSIS:Quvenzhane Wallis plays the beloved “Annie,” a foster kid whose life changes when business tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks takes her in.

REVIEW: I haven’t seen the Broadway musical “Annie,” but I’m familiar with the 1924 “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip by Harold Gray and thus, know something about the story. So this review is pretty much a stand-alone review of the movie, which I thought was very cute.

It’s a modern-day take on the story which takes place in present-day New York City. Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis, who does a great job) is a foster kid who, along with several other girls, is living with the vile (and usually drunk) Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz).

When cell phone tycoon Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) — an updated version of Daddy Warbucks — saves Annie from being run over by a truck, it sets off a series of events designed to help him in his mayoral campaign. His sketchy campaign manager (Bobby Cannavale) decides that Stacks needs a child to make him more human and sympathetic, so Annie leaves her “hard-knock life” for Stacks’ luxurious, high-tech penthouse apartment.

Meanwhile, Annie continues to search for her biological parents, mainly by waiting outside the restaurant where they left her one night, promising in a hand-written note to one day return for her.

Wallis is terrific as little Annie, who’s just a ray of sunshine and optimism, prone to bursting into song at a moment’s notice. And Diaz gets to chew up the scenery as the wretched Miss Hannigan. Even though she’s clearly not a role model in this movie, I don’t think it’s good for kids to see that type of character on screen, which is why I’m going with ages eight and older on this one.

I love the scenes between Foxx and Wallis, as they eventually realize they need each other (with a little help from Stacks’ assistant Grace, played by Rose Byrne). Sure, some of the dialogue and dance numbers are a little hokey, but they’re still heartwarming and cute and reminded me that Foxx has a beautiful voice.

The composer, Greg Kurstin, and producers, including Jay-Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, updated the music and added original songs, but they kept familiar numbers like “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” and “Tomorrow,” so don’t be surprised if you find yourself humming along.

While not a perfect movie, “Annie” is still entertaining and fun and will make you smile.

THE DETAILS (May Contain Spoilers):

Sex/Nudity: Miss Hannigan wears provocative clothes and hits on any man in her vicinity. In one scene, she’s mistaken for a prostitute. A male and female character like each other and kiss once.

Violence/Gore: Annie nearly gets run over by a truck and is in peril during a car chase scene. Miss Hannigan threatens to hit the girls with a broom and sprays them with Windex.

Profanity: Includes “idiot” and “sucks.” Miss Hannigan calls the girls “monsters” and tells them to shut up.

Drugs/Alcohol: Miss Hannigan drinks frequently and appears drunk through most of the film. She also worries about Child Protective Services finding her pills in the bathroom medicine cabinet.

Which Kids Will Like It? Kids eight and older who like musical movies featuring kids, or who are familiar with the Broadway version of “Annie.”

Will Grownups Like It? “Annie” is a cute movie with a few heartwarming scenes, but because of Miss Hannigan’s drinking and shenanigans, I don’t recommend it for kids younger than eight years old.

JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Images in this review used courtesy of Sony Pictures.

4 COMMENTS

  1. “Annie” is a modern day retelling of the acclaimed Broadway Musical and 1982 musical film based on the show, which was based on the 1924 Comic Strip “Little Orphan Annie” which in the original show and movie, takes part during the Great Depression, telling the story of Orphan Annie – a pre-teenage hoping for a return of her parents, who disappeared after they left her on the steps of of an orphanage as a baby. In this version, which again takes place in the modern day, it is revealed in the early part of the film that Annie, played by Quvenzhané Wallis (Academy Award Nominee for the “Beasts of Southern Wild”) was left as a baby at a restaurant by her parents, and is now a foster kid, under the care of Miss Hannigan, played by Cameron Diaz. The Billionaire character “Daddy Warbucks” of the classic story, has been replaced by the character of “Will Stacks”, played by Jamie Foxx (Academy Award winner for “Ray”), who is also a Billionaire from his cell phone business, and is running for Mayor of New York City. So – leading up to this film, the predicted expectations were of gloom and doom, presumably I think because this version does not take place in the original time line, and because some people’s now negative views (not mine) towards Actor/Rapper Will Smith, who co-produced the film with among others, his wife, Actress Jada Pinkett Smith, and Rapper and Business Mogel Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, whose sampled one of the Musical’s more populars songs “It’s a Hard Knocked Life” in his hit song “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)”. So what did I think – While I admit – the movie does became a mess to a great deal, it is not a total mess, and could have been a lot worse. A lot of songs that many of us love are there and performed well by the cast, some with variations, some of which are understandably, and some which may have probably weren’t necessary. There are some new songs as well, including the very touching “Who am I?” – sung by Diaz, Foxx and Wallis’s characters in the later part of the film. Some of the modern day jokes, just some of the humor in general works well, and some falls flat. Kids should like this version of “Annie” just fine. Adults – I think most who are fans of the original are going to be annoyed by it. I myself am I fan of the Broadway show and 1982 Movie. While I obviously didn’t love this version myself, again, While it does become a mess to a great deal,it’s not a complete one. My rating is for the music, and some of the humor – 2 ½ out of 4 Stars (The ½ star is for the previously mentioned new song “Who am I?”).

  2. […] But everything changes when hard-nosed tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) – advised by his brilliant VP, Grace (Rose Byrne) and scheming campaign advisor, Guy (Bobby Cannavale) – makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in. Stacks believes he’s her guardian angel, but Annie’s self-assured nature and bright, sun-will-come-out-tomorrow outlook on life just might mean it’s the other way around. A solid 3.5 of 5 Reels from me – read my full review here. […]

  3. […] But everything changes when hard-nosed tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) – advised by his brilliant VP, Grace (Rose Byrne) and scheming campaign advisor, Guy (Bobby Cannavale) – makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in. Stacks believes he’s her guardian angel, but Annie’s self-assured nature and bright, sun-will-come-out-tomorrow outlook on life just might mean it’s the other way around. A solid 3.5 of 5 Reels from me – read my full review here. […]

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