Have you seen the 2014 film version of Annie?
It’s actually really good! Far better than the annoying, stage-school screaming versions I’ve so often seen on stage. In fact, the film version makes the songs actually enjoyable! Quvenzhané Wallis is adorable as Annie – she’s sweet, sassy and sings beautifully without needing to belt the songs at the top of her voice. Jamie Foxx as William Stacks is also fantastic, though I’m disappointed they didn’t slip in a Gold Digger reference somewhere. I’m not sure what was wrong with the name Daddy Warbucks, but it’s clearly not the direction they wanted to go in.
The premise of the film is modernised – Annie’s in foster care, not an orphanage. Stacks is a tech tycoon who wants to become Mayor of New York City. He accidentally and instinctively saves Annie’s life and becomes pressured by his PR team to foster her, before finally realising all he needed was Annie to complete his pretty swell, if a little lonely, life.
Cameron Diaz is a weird choice for the drunken Miss Hannigan, but she comes good in the end which somehow seems far more heartwarming and musical-esque than the musical itself. Her evil schemes are prompted by Stacks’ campaign manager Guy Danlily rather than from her own cunning mind which puts her far more in the clear. The only downside is that the film’s version of Easy Street is pretty poor compared to the musical, as is Little Girls.
That leads me nicely onto the music.
Some of the songs are spot on, modernised to perfection (Sia’s version of You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile, for example, is fantastic and could be a hit in itself). However, songs such as The City’s Yours just feel crammed in to give Jamie Foxx something to warble about. There are too many songs for my liking in the original musical, but to add more seems a bit excessive and makes the second half of the film drag.
The film is a masterclass in how to make a kid-heavy musical irritation free. Light singing, adorable cast and minimal kids to maximise cuteness seems to be a winning formula. I’d really love it if someone modernised the stage musical to reflect some of the film’s hard work!
What did you think of Annie?
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