Annie DVD Review

DVD Review by Wal Reid

The Premise
Academy Award® nominee Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) stars as Annie, a young, happy foster kid who's also tough enough to make her way on the streets of New York in 2014. Originally left by her parents as a baby with the promise that they'd be back for her someday, it's been a hard knock life ever since with her mean foster mom Miss Hannigan (Diaz). But everything's about to change when the hard-nosed tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Foxx) - advised by his brilliant VP, Grace (Byrne) and his shrewd and scheming campaign advisor, Guy (Cannavale) - makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in. Stacks believes he's her guardian angel, but Annie's self-assured nature and bright, sun-will-come-out-tomorrow outlook on life just might mean it's the other way around.

The Review
I wasn’t expecting Annie to knock my socks off but with Producers Jay Z and Will Smith at the helm, this new interracial 21st century pimped up version of Annie was not to be missed (was that Jay at the beginning of the film in car?)

Right well, don’t know if it was because it was Sunday morning & jingle bells, but I actually enjoyed the movie. The music that everyone knows was mildly irritating (who knew Aussie Rose Byrnes could sing?) and singer/actor Jamie Foxx did a more than passable job playing hard-nosed mobile phone billionaire and mayoral candidate Will Stacks (the ‘Morpheus’ version of Daddy Warbucks) he still has the voice and works well with Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis) it’s a believable relationship and probably the only mitigating factor holding this film together.

Now, not having seen the film myself (shock horror) I would suspect that Annie is the pivotal character in this story, however Quvenzhané Wallis although convincing as the plucky orphan (whoops foster kid) fails to fire in this role.  I mean she looks good, acts the part very well and sings like an angel, but for me lacked the gravitas I think Annie should command, I think the same could be said about her friends in the orphanage.

Things that worked well, great support cast in tow, Aussie star Rose Byrnes & funny guy Bobby Cannavale are great in their roles as Stacks legal advisors providing the laughs along the way, while Cameron Diaz injects some much need fun into this beloved musical classic, to me it’s probably the role she’s been dying to play, and she pulls it off.  It’s a fun movie aimed and grown-ups and kids alike, probably puritans of the original will balk at the new version but I’ve seen a lot of movies of late and this is one of the better ones of the crop, and it’s a kid’s movie

The Verdict
It would’ve been nice if Jay Z or Will Smith had rapped over the seemingly unchanged ‘Hard Knocked Life’ version in the film, actually no hip hop or rap nuances, must’ve been tempting to go gung-ho but restraint and a winning formula to produce an entertaining take on one of the most popular musicals of our time, translates into big bucks at the box office – Like billionaire Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) of Stacks mobile, they never drop a “call”     3.5/5

The Trailer

The Info
DVD Releases: 22nd April 2015
Rating: PG
Duration: 118 minutes 
Genre:  Family
Starring: Quvenzhané Wallis, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx
Director: Will Gluck (Friends with Benefits, Easy A)

The Extras
This is the musical debut for the following people: writer/director Will Gluck, producers Jay Z and Will Smith, writer Emma Thompson, and actors Quvenzhané Wallis, Cameron Diaz, and Rose Byrne.

The film was originally envisioned by Will Smith as a star vehicle for his daughter Willow Smith; however, she had to drop out because she was too old to play Annie. 'Quvenzhane Wallis', just off her tremendous success with Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), was chosen to replace Willow Smith for Annie.

This is the third motion picture adaptation of Strouse and Charnin's Annie. The first was director John Huston's original big-screen version (Annie (1982)), in which star Albert Finney did a wicked vocal impersonation of Huston. The second was Rob Marshall's well-regarded and more faithful adaptation (Annie (1999)).

Sony Pictures Entertainment, owner of Columbia Pictures, slated Annie (2014) for a December 19, 2014, release, where it will face big competition from an another film musical, Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods (2014), directed by Rob Marshall and made by Walt Disney Pictures. Rob Marshall and Walt Disney Pictures collaborated with Columbia Pictures on the successful and well-regarded Annie (1999) in 1999.

Early on, Ryan Murphy, following the great success of his show Glee (2009), was considered to direct the film. He declined the opportunity.

Unlike the other film adaptations of Annie, producers Jay Z and Will Smith envisioned this version as "a modern re-imagining of a beloved musical".