Little Foster Child Annie
Annie (Quvenzhan? Wallis) is a foster child, one of many who live with the cold hearted Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz), but every Friday night she sits on the curb opposite the Italian restaurant "Domani" in the hope of seeing her parents as she remembers they went there. But one day young Annie finds herself entering the life of billionaire businessman and mayoral candidate Will Stacks (James Foxx), as after he saved her from being hit by a van his popularity surged and so his campaign manager, Guy (Bobby Cannavale), suggests he takes her in. But whilst Will wants nothing do with this publicity stunt he ends up being won over by young Annie who notices that he is also secretly keen on his assistant Grace (Rose Byrne). As Will becomes close to Annie and decides he would like to adopt her a blip on the landscape arrives in the shape of a couple who claim to be her parents although in truth they are fakes, arranged by Guy as another publicity stunt to push up his popularity.
I believe producers Will Smith and Jay Z envisioned this version of "Annie" as "a modern re-imagining of a beloved musical" and despite being one of those who didn't want a remake I have to say that they have succeeded, sort of. As such what you get in this version of "Annie" is the recognizable story many of us will remember from the 1982 version with Aileen Quinn but with some changes which is a good thing because a like for like remake would simply be pointless. And there are changes with the characters and also songs mixing the familiar with the re-imagined and also the new. To put it simply if you are going to remake a much loved movie then what they did with this version of "Annie" is right as that mix of old, refreshed and new is what is called for.
But I did say that this version of "Annie" sort of succeeded and this is a movie which is a rollercoaster ride. Early on when it tries to deliver the musical elements of the original such as the classic "It's a Hard Knock Life" scene it feels forced and whilst giving the song a more contemporary feel it just doesn't have that charm which the original had. But then when it strays from the original and we have a scene such as Will taking Annie for a ride around the city in a helicopter it establishes its own identity and it really works well. But then as the rest of the movie plays out it has these peaks and troughs as it forces things as it tries to hRD TO deliver elements of the 1982 version before then regaining its own identity with some thing new.
That rollercoaster also comes from the casting and let me say the combo of Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhan? Wallis is fantastic and they sell the friendship beautifully, growing their characters together beautifully. It isn't that one or the other makes the movie as it is the combo of Wallis and Foxx which works. But elsewhere the casting is not so good for me and Rose Byrne comes across far too awkward whilst Bobby Cannavale over does the publicity hungry nature of his character to the point of him being too cringe worthy.
What this all boils down to is that "Annie" is a good movie which does what producers Will Smith and Jay Z envisioned. But it is a movie which ends up like a rollercoaster as some things work well and other things simply don't.