Monday, April 27, 2015

Annie (2014)

IMDb plot summary: A foster kid, who lives with her mean foster mom, sees her life change when business tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in.
Directed by Will Gluck. Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, and Cameron Diaz.

OK. Let me start by saying I really like the ideas they had for modernizing it. The original Annie had a lot of fairly subtle political messages in it that got somewhat lost in today's culture, and trying to shake things up to get some of those messages through and not just, "Aw, a billionaire adopted an orphan" was a really good idea. Quvenzhane Wallis does just fine and is pretty likable, as is Jamie Foxx. (On the flip side, Cameron Diaz is... NOT good, and Rose Byrne is unbelievably bland, so there's that.)

Where this movie REALLY falls down, though, is in the music. They didn't just add a beat and autotune to the music -- they rewrote entire songs, and NOT for the better. I didn't even start off liking these songs at all, but this movie makes every one of them worse. As I said in a review elsewhere, they all reek of the bare minimum of effort. "Little Girls" is one prominent example -- they use two lines of the original song, add in a verse and chorus about wanting to be a star, and then they repeat the entire song again, because they'd already written a whole minute of song and apparently didn't feel like shooting for anything more. Really? REALLY? You have a two-minute song and the best you can do is to repeat your one-minute verse/chorus twice? This isn't a meaningful ballad where you can kinda get away with that. You're not writing "Will I" from Rent.

All the music just feels lazy -- lazily written, lazily performed, lazily choreographed. I can't even tell if any of these people can actually sing, they're so ridiculously autotuned. I found myself dreading the songs because the rest of the movie is not great but it's kinda fun, and then the songs would just drag it down ALL THE WAY. There was so much potential here. I wouldn't at all have minded new arrangements of the old songs. But rewriting them into stupider versions and then having them performed by digital voices seems like a really lame plan from someone who doesn't quite understand what people like about musicals in the first place.

1.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Annie < Minority Report
Annie > The Good Doctor
Annie < Water for Elephants
Annie < Doc Hollywood
Annie > Courage Under Fire
Annie < In the Heat of the Night
Annie > The Misfits
Annie < Run Lola Run
Annie < In the Company of Men
Annie < Blue Valentine
Annie < High Society
Annie < House of Games
Final spot: #1670 out of 2350.

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