Movie Review: “Annie” – A Fresh Take On A Classic Story

Written by Caitlin Cooper December 30, 2014


Beginning as a comic strip before being adapted to the stage and then the silver screen, everyone knows the story of the orphan named Annie. There have been at least three “Annie” films, like the Disney version from 1999 – starring Kathy Bates, Victor Garber, and Alan Cumming – that I watched and loved as a kid. When you’ve got a story as well-known as “Annie”, modernizing it yet again can be a risky move, but Will Gluck’s newest version breathes new life into the beloved story.

“Annie” tells the story of a foster child, Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis), who never gives up hope that her parents will return and remove her from her life with her mean foster mom, Mrs. Hannigan (Cameron Diaz). One day she literally bumps into Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), a wealthy business with political aspirations. Both of their lives change after he decides to take her in in order to boost his public image, while she uses her new connections to find her parents.

“Annie’s never gonna find her family. None of us are.”

The screenplay, written by Will Gluck and Aline Brosh McKenna, is actually done well. Annie remains a smart and witty girl who makes adults eat their words when they try to patronize her. The story, at its heart, is about people and relationships. The script is complex and smart, but at times things seem a bit rushed. Would Mrs. Hannigan really have a change of heart just because Annie genuinely complimented her singing voice? I’m not sure if I believe it 100%, but it’s a nice sentiment that being nice to someone is what they need to change their ways. The script is also really funny, with subtle humor and many great comebacks that had me laughing.

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I don’t watch very many musicals anymore, and most of the ones I do watch are animated films. So when musicals aren’t animated they’re taking quite a risk. “Annie”, however, has some of the best songs and the fact that they’ve been revamped to fit this modern take on the story actually improves them. Singer-songwriter Sia had a hand in re-writing many of the versus for well-known songs like “I Don’t Need Anything But You” and “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here”. The alterations to the music and lyrics of these songs make them, quite frankly, even more memorable and catchy..

“No matter who you are or what you are, you just gotta want it bad enough.”

But how is the singing? Wonderful. Wallis has a beautiful voice and it’s no surprise she was cast as the lead. When she wears the signature Annie red dress and she stuns Will Stacks with her singing ability, I was wowed, too. Foxx, who has an oft-forgotten career as a singer, is a lovely fit with his nice vocals. Diaz and Rose Byrne don’t have the strongest voices in the film, but they don’t ruin the songs in which they have parts.

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The cast does pretty well with singing, but they also do well with the acting. Wallis is a talented person and plays Annie with a maturity and strength that does the character justice. Foxx does well as Will Stacks and his character is an improvement on Warbucks because of his character growth over the course of the film. Diaz plays a character who’s bitter and drunk, so she gets to be silly and over-the-top. Still, she manages to make her version of Mrs. Hannigan memorable. Rose Byrne’s character is a little ridiculous with her periods of awkward rambling, but aside from that, Byrne adds comedy and some more heart to the film.

“Sometimes what you’re looking for is right in front of your face.”

Overall, “Annie” gives a wonderful, fresh take on a classic story. The script is smart, funny, and moving, and the updated songs improve on the originals. Quvenzhané Wallis makes a memorable Annie, and the rest of the cast leaves their mark, too. “Annie” is a good film to watch if you want to experience a sweet, fun story.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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