I was fully prepared to hate ANNIE. From the first time I heard there would be new, original songs and that the songs I held near and dear were going to be changed, I dedicated tweets, Facebook posts, text messages, you name it, to venting my hatred about the remake. I know that is not how a supposed objective movie critic should behave, but hey, we are all human and I have loved ANNIE since I can remember. I used to watch it every day as a kid and reenact it in my living room. So yes, ANNIE is very special to me.
Then something crazy happened. I started to tolerate the soundtrack. At first, I lied to myself and said I liked it ironically, that it was so bad it was good. As time went by, however, and my Spotify playlist was finding its way back to the songs I originally despised, I knew it was time to admit that I was coming around. I have especially fallen in love with the new, original song “The City’s Yours”, sung by Jamie Foxx; I could listen to him sing all day. While I don’t think I will ever fully understand or be completely “okay” with the updated “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here”, the song is pretty damn catchy. Just typing the title out has it stuck in my head again a la “It’s A Small World”. Not to mention, the dance number to the song in the movie is really fun and funny (especially if you watch the Russian social services official dancing around).
Now, a BIG reason I can stomach this movie is that I think of it as a completely different film with no ties to the original. To compare this ANNIE to the original is like comparing Sam’s Club diet soda to Coca-Cola: same idea, different taste and quality. Yes, it has some of the same plot points. Yes, it has a young orphan girl named Annie who is dealing with a tyrannical Ms. Hannigan. Yes, she is taken in by a multimillionaire and guided by his pretty assistant Grace (played by Rose Byrne who, as always, was a high-point in the film). But, that is pretty much where the similarities (in my mind) end. Did we need to have a remake? Absolutely not. Was this remake entertaining (and did not bring about the Apocalypse like I originally thought)? Yes, but again… I had months to prepare for this, and was prepared for the absolute WORST, so maybe I am able to be a bit more open than others going in with no idea of what they are about to encounter?
Now we have to talk about the negatives… the most glaring being Cameron Diaz’s Miss Hannigan. While I like Diaz as a person, I have never been a huge fan of her acting. To say she is painfully, PAINFULLY over-the-top in this film is an understatement. Maybe that was the fault of the director, who clearly focused her toward that performance. And granted, it is hard to follow Carol Burnett in any role, especially in ANNIE, but Diaz made the chasm between performances look like the Grand Canyon. As the movie progresses and more of Hannigan’s character arc was laid out, I could stomach the character a little more, but Diaz’s performance was, as Valerie Cherish from THE COMEBACK would say, “N.G., not good.”
There were also some pretty cringe-worthy moments sprinkled throughout the script that literally made me do a double-take. Did anyone else notice that Annie named her dog after HURRICANE SANDY?!?! Okay, let’s backtrack…Annie finds a dog at a shelter and the eventual villain of the film, Guy (Bobby Canavale), remarks that the dog is like a hurricane because she won’t stop spinning around. Annie shouts out that she will name her Sandy! Whose idea was this? We don’t need a reason why the dog is named Sandy, especially if you are going to name it after a hurricane that directly and indirectly killed over 250 people and caused billions of dollars in damages. What were they thinking?
So, bottom line: ANNIE has problems, especially if you are a die-hard fan of the original like me. However, if you can get over the initial shock of change, I think you will have fun at the theater, and maybe, just maybe will pull the soundtrack up on Spotify. Just please do not tweet “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here” to me. By the time this review posts, I will hopefully have it out of my head and any mentions will bring it screaming back.
My Review: C+/B-