Sunday, December 21, 2014

ANNIE: A Sickening Experience That Gets Worse Everytime Someone Sings

Now playing at a multiplex near you:

ANNIE (Dir. Will Gluck, 2014)

This new re-imagined adaptation of the 1977 musical “Annie” really made me see red. It’s a crassly commercial, hard-to-stomach, shameless spectacle that reduces the story points of the original into annoying contrivances, while it covers every actor and actress involved in unbearable ickiness.

Quvenzhané Wallis, who I liked so much better when she was Hushpuppy who lived with her daddy in the Bathtub, is our new updated African American Annie, now a foster child instead of an orphan. Wallis lives with other foster children with the mean alcoholic Miss Hannigan (an obnoxiously over-the-top Cameron Diaz) in Harlem, where she dreams that her real parents will come back to retrieve some day. Tomorrow, maybe?

Daddy Warbucks is now William “Will” Stacks played by Jamie Foxx, who seems fairly uncomfortable in the role. Wallis’ Annie and Foxx’s Stacks cross paths when he saves her from an oncoming car, an event that, of course, goes viral. As he’s in the middle of a campaign for Mayor of New York City, it’s decided by Foxx’s handlers (Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale), that Annie should come live with him in his bling heavy smart apartment (a smartment?).

What part of that plot description doesn’t make you want to vomit?

Wallis may or not be a decent singer, but I couldn’t tell with how auto-tuned every vocal is in every over-produced musical number. I’m pretty certain that Diaz, Cannavale, and especially Byrne shouldn’t be allowed to sing though. Foxx, is without a doubt the most talented vocalist here but he sure doesn’t seem like he’s giving it his all – his song “The City’s Yours” delivered in a helicopter hovering over the Big Apple really falls flat. It’s a performance that might as well be Skyped in.

I was not a fan of the 1982 ANNIE, directed by John Huston no less, but this plastic atrocity makes it look like THE GODFATHER. In that now elevated film, Daddy Warbucks (Albert Finney) takes Annie (Aidan Quinn, now residing in the where are they now file) to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes and the 1936 classic CAMILLE.

In this awful update, Foxx takes Wallis to a movie premiere of a fictitious TWILIGHT-type production entitled “MoonQuake Lake,” featuring cameos by Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Rihanna. This is only notable because it’s the rare example of an awful film within an awful film.

While suffering through this new fangled ANNIE, I remembered something I hadn’t thought about for a long time. My first major girlfriend had played “Annie” in a long run at the Governor’s Inn in the Research Triangle Park here in NC in the ‘80s. Her dog was even named “Sandy.” I think she told me she had also auditioned for the movie, which I’m not sure about as I probably wasn’t listening (I was a bad boyfriend) but she was the same age as Quinn who won the role so it surely seems plausible.

Anyway, as this was a long ass relationship that ended badly, I admit that this might make me biased against the whole Annie thing, but I doubt even without that factor, that I’d take to this new crappy retooling in any way shape or form.

More later...

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