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While, arguably, there wasn’t much of a need for another Annie adaptation, it doesn’t keep this film from perhaps being one of the best renditions.
Review (with Spoilers)
Characters & Story
For years Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis) has been trying to find her parents by waiting at this local restaurant where the note of her abandonment came from. However, no matter how many times she goes, all she gets is a disappointment and a cannoli from the restaurant owner. Thus leading her back home to Ms. Hannigan’s (Cameron Diaz) home in which she is yelled at and just looks at the half heart necklace her parents gave her. Enter Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) who is a mayor candidate for New York who comes off like a billionaire with little care about the people. That is until he meets Annie and his life becomes forever changed.
It is very weird to me that someone who is only 11 years old can make me cry. For as much as I didn’t get the hoopla over Beasts of a Southern Wild, at the same time it is hard to deny Wallis could be one of the few child actresses today who you can see become something big. For as much as she has the smile and persona which could perfectly fit on the Disney Channel, at the same time she has the ability to tap into your emotions and affect you. Making it so, despite you likely knowing the story of Annie, she still finds a way to make it her own through giving the character a bit more depth than I remember seeing in the 80s version.
But, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Foxx’s position in helping her perform. For as much as he is a big star, and his name is attached just as much as Wallis, you get this sense that he is doing his best to make sure she shines. For example, in the story Stacks isn’t necessarily a cold and heartless billionaire, but you can see the lack of connecting with people has affected him. So, Foxx presents a man who has drowned himself in work to not feel too deeply. Leading to what, on its own, is a good performance for him. However, with Wallis you can almost see him playing off her like maybe she would be his own daughter, and through seeing Wallis as this little star in the making, I think he tries his best to not just make her this cute little thing, but also have people see in her what he does. Though I realize as I say this, director Will Gluck could be the reason behind the two working well together.
Perhaps the one issue I had with this film was Cameron Diaz as Ms. Hannigan. If only because I’m thinking of the 80s version of Ms. Hannigan, and Diaz playing her just seems off. Almost like she was cast just so another recognizable name could be attached to the film vs. her being the best person for the part. Outside of that, I’ll admit that while Wallis and company are good singers, outside of “Opportunity” I don’t find any of the songs they sing memorable or worth purchasing.
Overall: Worth Seeing
While I doubt Quvenzhané is going to win the Golden Globe, due to this year being a decent one, this film definitely should be considered a feather in her cap. If just because it further increases the diversity of her portfolio and could always lead to something down the road. However, what makes this truly Worth Seeing is the fact it is more than a kid doing a musical, but a kid who sets a higher standard for young actors and actresses past what we are used to from Disney and Nickelodeon. For while there are touching moments in shows like Girl Meets World, Wallis has enough command over herself to surpass expectations for child actors, and be deserving to compete with people old enough to be her parents.
Things To Note
There is some slight innuendo which, I believe, should go over kids’ heads. For example, when Will Stacks pulls out a pen, it is noted how big it is.
“I think when people say ‘no,’ they’re just really scared of saying ‘yes.’”
“I think people surround themselves with other people just so they can feel loved. I don’t believe in that. I believe that the people that actually love you, you can count them on one hand.”