Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Annie Review

Did we need another adaption of the musical Annie? That's the exact question that I asked myself when this movie was first announced. I mean, when a movie has been done several times already, there comes a point where I think that movie should just be put on the shelf and Hollywood should just go in different directions with their ideas. I decided that this was probably one of these situations, but yet since I do love the musical Annie, I was willing to give it a shot. If you look at reviews, you'll initially see the 4.5 on IMDb and the 29% on Rotten Tomatoes and will decide immediately that this is a movie worth skipping. However, I'm here to tell you that that would be wrong. First and foremost, this does have a specific target audience, that audience being younger kids. Those kids aren't going to be the ones voting on IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes. I saw this in a theater full of kids and they were having the time of their lives. Second, this movie really isn't that bad. A lot of problems? Yes. Horrible, wretched, and not worth a second of your time? Heck to the no!

If you don't know the storyline of the musical Annie, the basic skeleton is that you have this orphan girl named Annie who lives in a pretty awful orphanage in the 1930's that is under the direction of one Miss Hannigan. All she wants is for her parents to come get her, so she can live a better life. Pretty soon her fortunes start to change as she is able to spend a short time with a wealthy man named Daddy Warbucks and his secretary Grace and together they start to search for Annie's real parents. This version is a bit different, but it still follows that same skeleton. Instead of being in the 1930's, we are in the modern day, but Annie is still an orphan girl who lives under the direction of Miss Hannigan. However, we have a mayoral candidate named Will Stacks (I don't know why we changed his name from Daddy Warbucks to Will Stacks, but oh well) who saves Annie from getting hit by a truck. When the city sees this footage, his points shoot up and so based on the advice of his VP, Grace, and his campaign advisor, Guy, he takes in Annie in order to help his shots at winning mayor increase even more. But pretty soon this shallow motivation of taking Annie becomes meaningful as he starts to realize he actually cares for Annie and wants her to find her parents and be happy.

Typically the character of Annie is a red-headed white girl. One of the more interesting things about this movie is that the first character you see is actually a red-headed white girl named Annie giving a presentation in a class. When she is done, the teachers says she can sit down and calls up the other Annie in the class to go next. This is our main character of Annie and it is a young black girl. It's as if the movie was saying, "Hey look what we're NOT doing. We DIDN'T cast the typically Annie, but instead cast a black girl to play her." At first I thought this was going to be a politically correct version of Annie, but that didn't bother me at all simply because that black girl is Quvenzhané Wallis, who was the youngest nominee for best actress at the Oscars for her role in Beasts of the Southern Wild. And by goodness is she an adorable and talented young actress. She is absolutely amazing as Annie. And for that matter, Jamie Foxx is our black Daddy Warbucks -- or Will Stacks -- and he also does an amazing job. The chemistry between the two of those throughout the movie is just perfect. And for that matter, Grace, as played by Rose Byrne -- a white actress, adds to that making for a great trio of main stars. And it's a good story, too.

However, what really is the worst part of the movie is the actual music, which is disappointing because the music part of a musical really should be the best. Before going into the movie, I actually defended the music. It's obviously auto-tuned, but I think people severely over-react to the idea of auto-tune as if it's inherently bad. It's not. In fact, this severe condemnation gets so out of hand that many times actual singers with actual talent get accused of using auto-tune just because they sang in tune. And often electronic music is also confused with auto-tune. So I am convinced that there are a huge chunk of people in this world that don't even know what auto-tune actually is and thus go around condemning every talented musician as one who uses auto-tune. It's stupid. That said, I will fully admit that this music is poorly done. The problem isn't necessarily that it is auto-tuned and lip-synced. The problem is that it looks lip-synced and sounds unnatural. When you have a group of young girls that have 100 percent perfect pitch as if they were professional singers, it doesn't sound that good. And when you are watching a musical and it's super obvious that they aren't actually singing, that's bad. And this is the case with every single song and THAT got frustrating. So yeah, the music in this movie sucks.

The other horrible part of this movie was a lady by the name of Cameron Diaz who does an absolutely wretched job as Miss Hannigan. She is so over-the-top and so fake that it is probably one of the worst performances of her career. While I really loved Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx, and Rose Byrne, I hated Cameron Diaz and it was so bad that she almost single-handedly ruined the entire movie. Also, there were a lot of gags that I just didn't find funny. However, countering that point, every time that I was watching the movie and thought to myself that the gag they just did wasn't funny, the whole theater of kids started bursting out in laughter. Ok. So there were certain parts of the movie that didn't work for me specifically, but did work rather well for the target audience. I can respect that. Also, in terms of the acting and the auto-tune, a little kid isn't going to notice. And they didn't. I tried to observe the reaction of the kids as they left the theater and they all seemed very pleased at what they just saw. I think that is definitely worth noting.

Overall, Annie is far from perfect. The music sucks. Cameron Diaz is terrible. And there were a lot of gags that I didn't find funny. However, there is a target audience that are much more lenient when it comes to judging things like this, so my recommendation to you is that if you are a parent with small kids who have seen these previews (the movie has been advertised for over a year now) and are excited for the movie, then take them. Despite terrible reviews, the movie received a cinemascore of A-, meaning the people who were excited for the movie went to the movie and loved it. Also, that side of things aside, I really didn't find this a terrible movie. They storyline is decent because it does follow the skeleton of the excellent Annie musical and the acting by Quvenzhan√© Wallis, Jamie Foxx, and Rose Byrne are just amazing and the three of them have such great chemistry that it's just fun to watch their story, as long as they aren't singing. All that in mind, my grade for Annie is a 7/10.

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