Why would you re-make the classic Annie movie (and by classic, I mean the 1982 version with Carol Burnett)? It's been tried, and tried. And while there have been fans of the remakes over the years they were all dull in comparison. Here's the thing: In very rare occasions the reimagined thing can take on a life of its own and be better than the original. The new Annie Movie that appears in theaters December 19th is a new American Classic.
Annie is everything good and joyful that a musical movie should be. The music (thank you to Sia for updating the classics) will have you rocking in your seat. The characters will charm you and the story will sweep you up in it's quest to spread cheer. It's that good people.
A few members of our team have seen the movie to help us prepare for the launch. We were ALL skeptical that this version would dazzle our kids in the way we were dazzled decades ago. That's a lot of baggage to bring into the theater. Thankfully Jay Z and his team of producers backed the right man to for the re-mix. Under Will Gluck's direction this movie soars to greatness.
Let's break down the two major reasons this movie SHOULD BE A BLOCKBUSTER. First and foremost is lead actress Quvenzhané Wallis. This young lady has more charisma in her curls than most world leaders have in their entire bodies. She sings, dances and most of all can act. There's no painful over emoting or stilted snarkiness. This Annie is spunky, sweet and more thank anything optimistic.
I suppose we've got to mention Director, Will Gluck, early in our review. Kudos to Will for getting such strong performances from his cast. If there's one thing I can't stand it's when child actors over emote. The young actors in this production delivered spot on, energized performances.
The second major reason the movie will entrance your family is Sia's music. You'll love how she re-mixed the beloved standards: It's a Hard Knock Life, Tomorrow and You're Never Fully Dressed... AND the new songs are terrific. My girls especially loved Quvenzhané's star turn at Opportunity.
What else? So much, but you're going to see it so I really don't need to gush more. I will say NYC is a major character in the movie. She's never looked better. Annie cruises around on CitiBikes and has a favorite bodega. The new 1 World Trade also get s aleading role in the movie--and the building can stand up to the spotlight. Yay for the hip nods to the Big Apple.
The story is more or less the same. Yes, it's updated with a multi-cultural cast (amen) and lots of social media nods, but at heart it's still a story of hope and inspiration. A little girl needs to remind us to be kind and to love. That message still rings true as our economy struggles on and race relations continue to rip apart communities. We all need a little Annie in our lives.
I got the chance to chat with the talented team behind the re-make. Cameron Diaz was a real treat to connect with (let's get this over with, yes, she is gorgeous, funny, and kind--still ok to like her). She had BIG shoes to fill. I mean Carol Burnett! But the gorgeous actress has huge comedy chops. She created a young, spicy version on Hannigan you won't soon forget. "This is just a different movie for a different generation," said Cameron about her sassy update of Hannigan. Cameron shared that she was able to NOT scare the actors playing the foster kids too much. She'd prep them before the cameras started that the screaming was about to begin.
Jamie Foxx, well we know he can sing (he's even got a recording studio in his house),so no surprise that he delivers the musical talent needed to make his role work. The key to his performance is how he clicks with Quvenzhané--there was some movie magic happening there. Jamie told us having his daughter on the set of Annie was a huge bonus. This is a movie he seems very proud of, deservedly. Jamie brings a warmth and vulnerability to his billionaire but also plenty of cool.
My one bit of criticism would be casting Rose Byrne as Grace. She looks the part, but can barely sing and didn't click with the rest of the cast. I loved Bobby Cannavale--he's the Rooster character though interpreted in a fresh way. You'll all love his dance sequence with Cameron Diaz--he says he was stressed out over it, but you can't tell. He tangos with the best of them!
See Annie the Movie in theaters starting December 19th. Head here to see the trailer and get more details.
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