The new instant classic known as Annie in the hands of Will Glück, Emma Thompson, Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, Caleb Pinkett, Shawn Jay-Z Carter, and original songs by Sia, is an absolute instant classic that you’re going to LOVE! (Well, most of you anyway!)
You know how my reviews go by now so….
From the very beginning you find yourself toe tapping and dancing in your seat!!! The opening number and opening scene are great introductions to this fun film.
You meet this enigmatic little girl named Annie being the belle of the ball in her classroom, so to speak. She sucks you in from the beginning and does not let you go!!!
You also find yourself easily bonding with the four other girls in Ms. Hannigan’s (Cameron Diãz) care. You feel their pain and sorrow and yet this isn’t a sad or depressing moment at all. There’s hope; they certainly make you see that and you carry that with you throughout the film.
Selecting Oscar nominated star Quevanzhané Wallis as Annie and Oscar winner Jamie Foxx as Will Stacks? There really could NOT have been a better-selected pair for these two. They mesh, they have genuine chemistry, and more important, they have the ability to showcase that marvelous connection on screen! You even feel a Father/daughter relationship as soon as they meet, even though Will is still quite aloof and stuffy as the looming loner that he is.
And Cameron Diãz as Ms. Hannigan? Let me just say at first I was a bit apprehensive about the choice because similar roles I had seen her in did not work for me. Yet she pulls this off. You see this sad, dejected, loser of a creature before you, and you soon realize that watching the layers of her life as they peel away is going to be enjoyable – and indeed it is!!!
Rose Byrne’s version of Grace (Will Stacks’ executive assistant) and Adewale as Nash, his head of security and driver, enjoy such a chemistry with Annie that you find yourself longing for their scenes with her to be a little bit longer. You feel the family dynamic coming together so smoothly that they almost make it look too easy, when it couldn’t be further from the truth.
This film has two key players that not only add to its appeal, but are themselves their own roles, their own actors that you will find yourself keen on and grateful for. The beautiful city that is New York City, both remakes of the classics like It’s A Hard Knock Life and the great original songs like “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile” by Sia. Yes, this is a musical, and yes the players do a lot of singing and dancing but the dialogue is on par with the musical numbers and the transitions are relatively smooth and work as they should.
Now, it takes a tremendous amount of skill and vision to film a musical that’s NOT on a stage. There’s movement, there are wild camera angles, there are transitions, and queues. There’s framing and actual in motion scenery both those you can control, and those you cannot. The cinematography group that filmed Annie did such a wonderful job of allowing the city that is New York, to play the role is was selected to play. They made the backdrop just as relevant as the foreground.
On a live motion film not only do you have scenes occurring in frame that you have dominion over, but you also have LIFE going on out of frame that you have absolutely NO control over. And there’s an element in this film that reminds you just how magical those out of frame parts are.
When the production team was scouting locations for this film, you can almost imagine yourself there with them. You find yourself with a great understanding of just WHAT the gifts are that the individual location is capable of giving, and why the production team selected that very spot. You can honestly say you would not be able to imagine Annie being shot anywhere else. Too many things add to the formula here that just don’t appear in any other setting.
What Does Not Work:
Bobby Cannavale as Guy (Will Stacks’ campaign manager) is supposed to be a cutthroat, end all, be all, do whatever it takes to win sort of guy. But even he has far too much warmth and connection to Annie to sell that here.
Yes you do find yourself angry with him when you’re supposed to be but, while you see it coming, you still do not believe you’re eyes even when it’s right in front of you. Now make no mistake, Bobby does what he should with what he was given. Still, just a few minor screenplay changes could fix that and then we’d find ourselves in the moment of truth, relishing it and casting our stones in anger at the right moment. It just wasn’t there for me and I really wanted it to be.
Even with that I still absolutely enjoyed this wonderful instant classic. Children and adults alike will find themselves chanting and singing to the rooftops, Annie, Annie, ANNIE!!! An absolute #MUSTSEE and a film the whole family young and not will enjoy indeed!!!
Joyll Cambridge hails from Manchester, United Kingdom and currently lives in New York, New York. She loves all things movies, fitness and swirling. To read Joyll’s personal blog at The Humanist Exec, click here.
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Copyright ©2014 Michelle Matthews Calloway, ASwirlGirl™, The Swirl World™, The Swirl World Podcast™, All rights reserved. Photo of Joyll Cambridge used with permission. Movie poster from the movie “Annie” obtained from IMDB.