It’s a hard ’nuff film to watch
It’s amazing achievement that a musical film, which is based on an established Broadway musical, can crumple in a heap harder than a car crash using 1960’s safety standards and it does so purely based on the musical numbers in the film.
How the film manages to make them the absolute worst part of a musical film is beyond me. In fact it’s almost worth seeing just for the sheer farce of it all.
Now I haven’t actually ever seen Annie the theatre production nor have I seen the 1999 movie, nor the 1982 movie of the same name. Neither am I a musical aficionado, though I’ve seen my fair share. What I am trying to say is that I have no pre-conceptions of this film before seeing it.
I can only imagine that this film was once quite decent but then someone from marketing came along and demanding more material objects thrown in like bigger LCD displays and helicopters, less dancing and generally more douche-baggery wildly spewed on screen. I feel the phrase “no, we need to cheese-it more” was the yardstick used.
This film, in a nutshell, a bunch of shit adverts strung together by a generic drama that is only made palpable by Jamie Fox who is by far and away the best thing in the film by being both funny, assertive and compassionate. Oh, also there is a cute dog which is also a highlight.
A fucking dog. That’s one of the highlights.
It’s actually quite a shame because the film did have a bit of promise. The setting has been changed to be a little black girl instead of a little ginger haired white girl and that’s perfectly fine because the ideology of the film is about a foster child going from a bad situation to finding love and compassion in a new foster home. This motif absolutely must transcends race and even gender because every kid deserves the best shot in life. If you don’t think that’s true then 1930s Germany will telegram you shortly no doubt.
So the setting is perfectly fine, interesting even. We then have Cameron Diaz who actually plays quite a good shambolic drunk foster carer by taking up the role of Hannigan who initialy looks after Annie and a handful of other kids. Unfortunately ahe doesn’t feel brutal enough to really make any impact on the kids lives or indeed, those painfully sitting through the film. Whenever she shouts at the children in her care they just sort sit there emotionless and just shrug it off.
This blaze attitude is carried all through the film by Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis) so you don’t ever root for her to thrive under the care of Will Stacks (Jamie Fox). Even when she get’s kidnapped by people pretending to be her real parents the only emotion is ‘meh, oh well!’. Just another ordinary day being kidnapped.
Surely this must have been toned down in order to make it fully accessible by younger children as a family friendly film but there is something to be said about making Diaz’s character more menacing because really she doesn’t seem that bad. Even if you let this aspect slide though, there is no excuse for the piss poor musical numbers.
Almost every musical number is dubbed. Ok, fine. But there is so little background noise going on that it feels like a shallow music video that is obviously, and often poorly, dubbed. There is only one scene where Annie sings and it sounds like her voice, singing on location and it’s a shame on 2 fronts, it stands out as bizarre because it is so different to the other highly polished yet soulless mp3s that are laced over the top but also because Quvenzhané Wallis actually has a quite sweet voice and it’s simply wasted here.
Then there’s the dance numbers. So I have been break dancing for about 12 years, 15 years? I loose count. Whilst I barely have a chance to do it anymore I still get excited by interesting dance scenes. Again, the film shows some promise at the start with the ‘hard knock life’ song containing some ingenuity when Hannigan’s foster kids, including Annie, clean the house whilst dancing.
After that scene though the best dancing can be vividly described as ‘walking around a bit’. In one half arsed attempt at creating something that crawls above the level of woeful; Annie, Grace (Rose Byrn) who plays Will Stacks’ assistant and some other random woman literally walk around Stack’s penthouse apartment stepping on tables, hugging sofas and licking TV screens in awe of how much money Stacks has.
This is are as sophisticated as the scene get and if this is considered to be a dance number then you could argue getting stabbed is a professional appendectomy.
I deliberated giving this 2 star, with one extra given purely for Jamie fox who, again, was really really good but the more I think about it the more i’m disappointed with the film. Bring your kids to see it by all means but I suggest you bring an ipod, play some soothing rainforest or whale sounds and have an hour and a half snooze. You’ll have a better time.
- Child friendly family film
- Jamie Fox
- Terrible song/dance numbers
- Generic supporting cast
- Lacking any real drama