Admit it. Your eyes (like mine) rolled when you first heard ANNIE was getting a Reboot too, right? How possibly could the 1982 Classic be improved upon? Will Gluck brought us pure delight with 2010’s Easy A, hence when we learned ANNIE would be left in his capable hands, we felt somewhat relieved. When it was confirmed however that Academy Award Nominee Child Actor Quvenzhané Wallis would be in the Titular Role, our curiosity genuinely was piqued. And then came the super-glossy Trailer which sold us completely.
The Film is set in a modern-day New York City. Annie (Wallis) is a child of the System, having been in-and-out of foster homes. She longs to find her birth parents, endlessly waiting outside a Cannoli shop in the hopes of being reunited with them. When we meet Annie, she still is under the care of a mean-spirited Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz), hardened by life and fame’s rejection. Meanwhile, Mayoral Candidate and Telecom giant Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) and his eager Advisor Guy (Bobby Cannavale) are just about ready to do anything to win an impending election. One fateful day, Annie and Stacks would cross paths, which forever would change their destinies. Ceasing the opportunity for campaign publicity, Stacks would take Annie in, opening her eyes to a life of luxury never before imaginable. Make no mistake though – Annie isn’t oblivious to her purpose – to project Stacks to the public in a positive light. Along the way, we get to know Stacks’ enchanting Assistant Grace (Rose Byrne) who acts as a his voice of reason. As Stacks and Annie continue working together as a Team, we witness their father-daughter bond strengthen, but could this change with a possible chance reunion between Annie and her biological parents?
Put aside your inhibitions and prejudgment. I’ll have you know that Gluck‘s ANNIE comes with fresh-enough a perspective to communicate to a new generation of children, yet at once it speaks eye-level to adults in terms of humour. Although this impeccably-styled Remake doesn’t quite have the same playful charm its Predecessor possesses, it still touches the soul in the right places. Foxx is deliciously-funny as Stacks, aware of the modern comedic sensibilities needed to translate the timeless Tale to a new Audience. He has fun with it all and could not help but laugh out loud at his reactions and facial flexibilities. The only problem with Foxx – if you could call it that – is that he is so strong a Vocalist that the talent gap between that of him and his Co-Stars is rather glaring.
Diaz really gives her all and does a credible job transforming the grouchy Miss Hannigan through a journey of growth. The task of singing multiple numbers throughout alas proves too daunting even for her; she simply is not a singer. Byrne unquestionably is highly-likable and never do we stop adoring her as a much-needed unconventional maternal figure to Annie. Cannavale sizzles as Guy and charms his way to hearts even though he ultimately veers to the Antagonist. And although she doesn’t have many lines, Character Actress Stephanie Kurtzuba as Case Worker Ms. Kovacevic is wickedly-funny and most memorable of all, stealing a scene even in the wings. Alas, Wallis still has a bit of growing to do and although we cannot help but feel she doesn’t quite fill Annie‘s street-smart shoes, she is a captivating presence and we cannot help but root for her.
We won’t pick too much on the lack of syncing between on-screen singing and the heard vocals or the hunger-inducing and Holiday-geared product placements (yes, I wanted Ferrero Rocher!), but instead tell you rather that we enjoyed Mega-Producer Greg Kurstin‘s vibrant Score and Chanteuse/Songwriter Sia‘s distinctive pop sensibility in some of the Film’s original offerings. Even Gluck himself has a hand in writing some of the Tunes, a true sign of commitment to every detail.
Sony Pictures Canada release the surprisingly-delightful ANNIE on Friday, December 19, 2014 .