“Director Will Gluck has erased all heart of the story, replacing it with obviousness, obnoxiousness and an obsession of wealth and extravagance.”

by Rob Rector

Annie, the classic tale of an sweet little orphan girl and her stuffy billionaire benefactor, feels as though it got a makeover after visiting a Justice store for tweens, as it trades in its heart and compassion for materialism, baubles and fancy threads that feels coldy calculated to be released this close to the season of giving.

Directed by
Will Gluck
Quvenzhané Wallis, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx
Release Date
19 December 2014
Rob’s Grade: D

Moving the film’s setting to modern-day New York, but still maintaining an overall air of its Broadway roots on which this outing was based (which, in turn, was based on a Depression-era comic strip), has added little to the familiar tale. Annie (played by Quvenzhané Wallis) tries remaining chipper under the thumb of her cantankerous caretaker Miss Hannigan (played by a terribly miscast Cameron Diaz). One day, Annie crosses wires with Will Stacks (played by Jamie Foxx), a germaphobe mayoral candidate.

In an effort to boost his likability in the polls, Stacks takes Annie into his palatial home, thus making him more “marketable” to potential voters. Their initial bonding moments go exactly as one might expect if you have even caught a half-hour episode of Punky Brewster. Stacks, under the advisement of his campaign manager Guy (played by Bobby Cannavale, a serious actor working far beneath his skill and far out of his element), uses the little cherub for photo-ops and ribbon cuttings, while Annie seizes the opportunity to grab all the material items within her reach.

Many of the tried-and-true musical numbers are peppered throughout (with a few new ones tossed in, but forgotten after the final note is struck), but many in the cast have no real musical chops to make anything stand above a karaoke rendition of the older recordings.

Wallis, whose nuance and spirit rose above the mediocrity that was Beasts of the Southern Wild, is boxed into portraying a cheek-pinching spitfire, displaying nothing of the charm that seemed so effortless for her in her debut fairy-tale outing. But she manages to escape the LaBrea tarpit of sentimental goo that claims this rest of this outing. Foxx escapes it only because he seems to be the sole cast member with any sort of musical prowess and Rose Byrne (who plays a vice president of Stack’s cell phone company), succeeds as she refuses to succumb to an overall sarcastic tone that permeates the picture.

Director Will Gluck has erased all heart of the story, replacing it with obviousness, obnoxiousness and an obsession of wealth and extravagance.