Friday, 6 January 2017

Annie (2014) Movie Review

I feel quite strongly about this one.  Annie is a story about an optimistic young foster child who dreams of reuniting with her parents one day, and crosses paths with a rich man who is himself incomplete.  The tale follows their interractions and effect on each other's life and world.  The 2014 adaptation of the much-loved musical was almost universally panned by critics, and as I direct result I didn't bother to see it until recently. A quiet holiday afternoon afforded the perfect opportunity and I sat down to view this with the family.  Despite the critical consensus, we all quite enjoyed this movie.

Let's get one thing out of the way right now.  The voices are auto tuned, and I think this greatly detracts from the viewer's experience.  You can't beat great, natural voices, but for whatever reason, this musical decided to go down the robotic route. This is my biggest criticism of the movie, and it's a big one for a musical.

Having said that, I enjoyed the modern take on the story, the reworked old songs, as well as the new ones. Stand out song for me is "Who am I"  which features a sweet harmonic blend between Jamie Fox, Cameron Diaz and Quvenzhane Wallis.  Yes, it's auto tuned as well but I really love the harmonies and it still sounds beautiful.

Cameron Diaz overreacts as Miss Hannigan, intentionally so, but I'm not sure it always works.  I didn't always find Quvenzhane believable in the title role, but overall she did a good job.  I think Jamie Foxx was excellent as Oliver Warbucks, and clearly the best singer of the main cast.

Why did critics hate this so much?  I suspect nostalgia had a lot to do with it.  This Annie did not pay enough deference to the 1982 version - indeed it was perceived by some to have poked fun at it - and I believe that most critics found the change too radical to endure.  Some decried the movie's apparent materialistic message, but it's difficult to unreservedly side with that criticism, considering the fact that the film did try rather unsubtly to praise the value of integrity above financial gain.  Quoting a couple of lines:

"Who am I, what have I become?
Do I stand for something, or for money?"

So, Annie 2014 is not a perfect movie, but it does not deserve 27% on rotten tomatoes.  56% would have been more in order, which is about where IMDB sits (5.3/10).

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