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Review: Annie

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Eyebrows were raised after hearing African American actress Quvenzhané Wallis would be playing, the optimistic orphan Annie in the 2014 remake. Directed by Will Gluck and produced by Will Smith and Jay-Z, this multicultural version draws from the essence of the original 1970s musical, but set in the social media frenzy and technology obsessed world of today.

Anticipating the mixed feelings, due to the ethnicity of the new Annie; the opening scene plays on this with a quick jest. The film begins with a smug curly read haired girl giving a speech on the ninth president of the United States, William Henry Harrison, to her uninterested and bored classmates. Once finished the teacher calls up Annie B (Wallis), who reluctantly takes centre stage and manages to have the whole class singing along to her presentation on Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The hard knock life begins at the foster home; where we meet Miss Colleen Hannigan (Cameron Diaz) the distraught, unpleasant and delusional carer. Compared to her previous portrayals, Diaz’s depiction of the character is bad but not evil and as the film progresses we come to realise her predicament is the result of too many bad choices. Her theatrical pop friendly performance in ‘Little Girls’ will be a favourite among little girls in the audience.

From the beginning its clear Annie is a charismatic and mature girl whose leadership qualities provide hope & aspiration for the other foster children. Her intelligence directs the narrative as Annie out smarts her adult counterparts. Set in the Big Apple’s loud, vibrant and colourful backdrop, a reminder that this is where dreams come true.

The soundtrack features a few new songs, from the charming ‘Opportunity’ performed by Wallis to the awkwardly and overdramatic songs like ‘Who Am I’ by Diaz, Jamie Foxx and Wallis. The ‘Hard Knock Life’ rendition sounds as if Jay-Z himself is about to make an on screen appearance and start rapping. Although the music acts as the heartbeat to the concrete jungle, fewer songs would have greatly enhanced the film, making it likeable for all ages and allowing stronger songs to shine.

Jamie Foxx plays business man turned politician, William Stack. Machinelike and unsympathetic he represents the untouchable and secure rich; so pretentious his interaction with the public forces him to carry a suitcase of hands sanitizers. Snobby as Stack is, he does have a heart of gold which is seen when he first encounters Annie.

Overall Annie is a movie children will love but there are a number of good and bad points. The bad ones are seen in the excessiveness nature of the film; from the exaggerated more theatre suited songs to the social media references or the high profile celebrity features like Rihanna. The concept is hart warming, sweet and an ode to the American Dream but the execution could have been less loud and noisy.

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