So I watched Annie…
We live in a time of sequels and remakes so complaining incessantly about it (like I do) is really going to curb the trend. We might as well embrace it and I was actually looking forward to watching this movie. I love musicals and though I can’t remember everything about Annie as a kid, I do remember liking her story.
Okay, basic plot: um Annie’s a poor kid who gets adopted by a rich guy. Oh and occasionally songs are sung about hard knocks and suns coming out tomorrow.
I really wish I could say that I enjoyed this movie but honestly, I just can’t. The movie starts off so well – it’s lively, slick, full of singing and Quvenzhané Wallis is a delight as Annie. She’s smart, funny and oozes loveable sweetness. The other kids in her foster home are also great and when they sing “Hard Knock Life”, I had the biggest smile on my face. I also really liked how the movie integrated daily objects into not only the choreography of the songs but also into their percussion and sound. It felt fresh, lighthearted and really sets the tone for the movie perfectly. Unfortunately this is short-lived and the movie becomes incredibly drab and dull after about thirty minutes or so.
I think this movie was ambitious, which I have to praise it for, it added new songs and reworked and modernised songs from the original musical to fit better into the modern retelling of the story. The problem I had was that the original songs were often very dull and didn’t seam into the rest of the movie very well. Every time someone started singing it felt forced and like it was happening because someone mandated it and not because the emotion in the scene demanded it. I once heard a director say that, in a musical, when the emotions get too powerful for regular speech, the characters sing. In Annie (with the exception of the first few musical numbers) it feels like the characters merely sing because the script needed to have a certain number of songs present. It doesn’t feel natural and lacks any genuine emotion.
This movie also doesn’t feel like a musical – it just feels like a movie where characters unexpectedly and unnecessarily go into song. I think there just isn’t enough singing in this movie and then when the characters do sing, it feels out-of-place and contradictory to the style of the movie.
Also I love Rose Byrne, I think she’s an underrated talent in Hollywood and would love to see her in more leading lady roles but her singing voice is thinner than Nicole Ritchie. If you hire someone to act in a musical and they don’t have a strong voice then you should dub a voice over theirs during the singing scenes. It worked great for cartoons when I was a kid and I think musicals need to seriously consider this if they insist on hiring actors who can’t sing.
The story has been adapted from the original and I actually liked how they handled Annie being a black girl instead of a ginger white girl. I don’t want to spoil it but it’s done with a lot of humour and finesse. Overall the story was a little bit stagnant and uninspired. I never really got the sense that Wallis and Jamie Foxx had that bond between them and I think this is why the movie becomes so dull. I just didn’t believe that Will Stacks (played by Foxx) every really and truly falls in love with Annie and wants to be her father. But the story demanded I believe it so I just went along with it out of convenience.
I have to say I really enjoyed Cameron Diaz in this movie. She was a constant source of humour and really captured the spirit of the mean-spirited but ultimately good Ms Hannigan perfectly. David Zayas, as Lou – the local bogeda owner who has a crush on Ms Hannigan, was a real surprise for me in this. I’ve seen him in Gotham and thought he did an alright job as a mobster but in this role he shows he has some range and is a funny, warm character that I thought the story really needed.
This movie’s inherent problem is its lack of focus. It never really knows what kind of movie it wants to be. It starts out as a warm musical, then turns into a plunky comedy but then remembers that it’s a musical and forces some boring songs down your throat. It’s a bit of a mess and not in a good way.
Overall, if you’re looking for a good musical Into The Woods is a much better option. Quvenzhané Wallis is a delight in this movie and it’s sad that her natural talent and likeability is tainted by a dull script and an unimaginative performance by the adults around her. But then again this movie is aimed at kids and maybe I’m being too critical. I’d wait for it to come to dvd or download it hey, 6/10