Annie Review

20 Dec

*Spoiler Alert* I will try my best to keep spoilers out, but the following article might contain some information you may not want to hear about yet…

Annie 2014

People tend to like classics just because they are classics. People tend to stand by it even if the original is not as good as newer versions. Well, this Annie was not better than the original 1982 Annie, but it was darn near close to it. The original Annie did not have the wonderful acting and singing that we’d like our nostalgia glasses to remember. Still, this movie is doomed to be in the shadow of the original, no matter what I say about it. But at least it will introduce the new generation to the story, and maybe it will capture their interest.

I’ve seen some reviews of 2014’s Annie, and some of them are positive, some of them are not. I believe it’s always best to see a movie for yourself and decide what is good to you personally. Use discretion when reading reviews, and make sure the reviewer gives a clear logical, critical analysis rather than emotional biases…And don’t listen to reviewers who have only seen the trailers…

When people talk about making a modern adaptation to a story that was originally set in the 1930’s, it’s natural to be skeptical. I’m going to tell you right now: Whenever you think of a classic story adapting to fit a modern age, Annie shows us the right way to go about it.

Instead of the freckly, curly-afro, pale-skinned, red-headed Annie, we are given a brown-skinned, bushy haired Annie, which I found to be a good supplement. The book describes Annie as having curly red hair, but never said race. At least she still has the bushy, curly hair, and it has a reddish tint to it. In modern times, we have all kinds of girls in America, and all kinds of girls living together as orphans. Normally, replacing a white girl just to make the story more appealing to African Americans doesn’t always work, but for Annie, it does…Unless, you are one of those “by the book” individuals and you can’t relate to anything other than that…

In fact, most reviewers don’t even have a good reason why they think the old one is a better fit other than that’s the way it’s always been. If you think the original Annie was superior to this one just because she was white, you have a problem. I will definitely take you over to my Civil Equality Tests: The Equality Test. I feel if race is your only reason for hating this movie, that is ultimate bias. Much more should be considered before calling it a bad movie. I still think you should give it a chance. In fact, this movie is anything but bad. Now if you hated the new Annie’s character and acting, that would be a different story…

Pros

We all know this is a children’s movie, so the story fills 2 hours out to meet the cliched happy ending people seem to be against nowadays. I think that’s what I liked most about it. It was modern, but it used a classic story-telling scheme that never fails. It’s so much more than I can say about the recent slew of children’s films that lose me with “randomness” as they try to break “stereotypes” and “twist” everything. This movie focused on story-development and had the story I wish the original Annie had. It was not choppy like so many movies have been this year, and it didn’t leave any plot holes, either. Thankfully, it was a smooth story that didn’t leave me asking questions about missing details, i.e. Frozen.

I also like the fact that the music was modernized. Don’t get me wrong, I love the old songs. They are timeless classics. But I think the songs in this movie were charming and fitting for a modern-day age. I like the fact that those in charge did not take the songs that mattered out of the movie. I also like the fact that they added songs that fit better with this new story. And I’m thankful it was a musical.

As awkward as it was for Jamie Foxx to be singing in this kind of musical, I kind of liked the little duet he had with Annie in the helicopter. It was so sweet to hear that kind of music, which is so rare nowadays…

What I appreciated about this movie was how they brought the character Annie into a modern life without taking away the heart of Annie, which is a lot more than I can say about the 1999 version…

Annie, as we know, is a spunky little girl, with a clever mischievous mind. The 1980’s Annie was spunkier, I’ll give her that, but this new Annie was more perceptive and intelligent. Somehow, they managed to use her new personality quirks to charm the audience in a whole new way. The story was Annie, but it felt like it’s own story in a way. There were some slight changes from the original that didn’t take away from the movie, but made it feel like Annie reincarnated herself into an alternate universe, and in another place and time. The new Annie was wiser than the old in a way, but definitely just as strong, positive, and confident as the old Annie.

In comparison to so many children’s movies today, I felt the concept of the characters was pretty interesting. They didn’t rush the introduction of ANY characters and gave us time to grow and learn about each character. Each character had a story, and many stories were a little different from the original to fit with a more modern society. I couldn’t help falling in love with the idea behind the characters. I loved this bunch and they seemed comfortable around each other.

Cons

The performance value was low. First off, the acting wasn’t too good, but every actor/actress did the job. Cameron Diaz was no Carol Burnett, but she did the job of showing us a new Miss Hannigan in a modern world. Would she have been my first pick? No. But she sure does know how to give a mean, tired-looking scowl. The shrieking in every sentence made her seem like an over-exaggerated wicked witch, but nonetheless she moves the story along. I mean, she is the only person who manages to show emotion on her face…

I probably would’ve chosen someone else for Will Stacks. Someone I know is a family man, like Eddie Murphy or Cuba Gooding Jr or Will Smith…Jamie Foxx? Not entirely a comfortable fit for the movie, but he and Quvenzhané Wallis had chemistry. I think he really did fall in love with Annie…Even if his acting had a funny way of creating that feeling on-screen. Jamie Foxx is kind of a stiff man in these roles anyway…Though, ironically, he was into comedies before dramas…

The new Grace with the British accent…I guess it gives a nod to how interested Americans have become over the U.K.? Ya know, with all of U.K.’s biggest artists dominating our charts…

Another noticeable down-side to the performance value was the literal performance of the songs. While I’m glad the songs were in there, the immaculate dancing and singing was not matching up to par with the original…And let’s face it, half of us went to see it for the musical numbers that remind us of the good ol’ days. Auto-tune was not a good way to fight bad singing as it just made the songs hard to listen to. I didn’t care that Quvenzhané Wallis was not a singer, neither was the original Annie. But auto-tuning is definitely not the way to combat the vocal stretch.

I said before that I liked that the music was added in there, however, the music also acted against the movie. I believe because we see the world so “realistic”, it’s hard for us to add glamour to the modern movie like those directors in the 1980’s did for a 1930’s version. And glamour was needed to make the music believable. Honestly, because of this, it probably would’ve been better to take the risk and omit the music altogether. At least that would’ve been one less thing to complain about and we truly could’ve just focused on the story…

Overall, though, I was very pleased with Annie. This is not for people who like a whole lot of action, but for people who like touching stories that are appropriate for the whole family. This children’s movie was pretty good without going over-the-top to be the next edgy twist. It stuck to traditional story-telling, which left it solid and without holes. Twists are getting a little overrated now, anyway. I think Annie served it’s purpose. It served to brighten our day and make us smile at the sweet tender moments of childhood. Some people have lost that touch with their inner child.

I give the movie an 8/10.

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