The 2014 remake of the classic musical Annie is sufficient but a missed opportunity to truly reinvent the tale and become a modern day classic.
Annie had a slim chance for true greatness, being a remake of a dated musical garnered toward children. It was bound to be cheesy and saccharine but Annie did not also have to be the bland and saturated cash cow product delivered to audiences.
In the Jay-Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith funded remake, gone is little orphan Annie of 1982 in lieu of little foster Annie, played by Quvenzhané Wallis. Daddy Warbucks is not some intimidating tycoon but Will Stacks, played by Jamie Foxx, a self-built CEO of a cell phone company. Other than these main character differences the remainder of the story stays relatively intact and is simply set in a modern environment of Manhattan.
The film Annie is severely faulted in almost every aspect. Will Gluck‘s screenplay has all the obligatory parts to satisfy mindless viewers but lacks all the charm and awaredness of the magic that would make it great. The remake adds nothing to the tale nor takes any risks or daring to make the story its own.
The opening song in Annie is a hybrid of the classic musicality of the original and quickly spins into a funner composition tweaked with the sounds of New York. It is refreshing and a novel arrangement setting in the misleading emotion of hope but immediately the film regresses into the old song and dance. Worst of the musical numbers, by far, would be Easy Street and Hard Knock Life. The travesty of Annie is the spineless way in which it shies from true modernization. With such musical talents listed as film producers of Annie it is absolutely inexcusable and simply lazy for the musical arrangements to be so uninspired. Yes, the film is set in modern times and modern New York but otherwise it is a carbon copy of the original. And yet it is worse because it is artificially molded and uninspired to appease the masses enough to get their dollar.
Hollywood has an abysmal track record when it comes to translating musicals to screens and Annie is no different. Once again namey actors and autotune are cast in lieu of true performers with singing ability and it is painfully apparent. Further, the editors of the film could not be bothered to attempt to redeem the paltry lip syncing of the actors involved nor make the segues into the musical numbers be anything but abrupt.
The only moments that made Annie even moderately sit-through-able would be the charm, sass and charisma between Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhané Wallis. Besides these scenes everything else is a distraction of hum-drum nonsense, making me think Gluck and company have absolutely no litmus test nor taste for what is good in this film. Unfortunately that is not enough to redeem the film because for every magical moment in Annie there are about ten that are atrocious.