At First Glance: “Annie (2014)”

So, apparently when one remake won’t do, let’s do another!! It seems to have worked, at least according to the numbers, for “Carrie (2013)”, so why not here?! Well, I actually can’t give you any reasons why, but I’m sure I can find enough to object to this latest bit of lazy from a major Hollywood studio.

The upcoming Columbia Pictures “Annie”, may convince some that this is a clever and needed remake, but for the smarter filmgoer, this film will be a sad, sad waste. Not to mention, 15 years is not that long ago.

This musical comedy film stars Jamie Foxx (upcoming “Horrible Bosses 2”, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”), Quvenzhané Wallis (“12 Years a Slave”, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”), Rose Byrne (“This Is Where I Leave You”, “Neighbors”), Bobby Cannavale (“Chef”, “Blue Jasmine”), and Cameron Diaz (“Sex Tape”, “The Other Woman”).

The film is directed by Will Gluck (“Friends with Benefits”, “Easy A”) and written by Gluck (“Friends with Benefits”, “Fired Up”), Aline Brosh McKenna (“We Bought a Zoo”, “I Don’t Know How She Does It”), and possibly Emma Thompson (“Effie Gray”, “Nanny McPhee Returns”). It is based on the musical of the same name by Thomas Meehan.

The film is expected to hit theaters on Dec. 19, 2014.

It was inevitable. After seeing the original and the first remake, I knew at some point I’d get around to writing about this upcoming version of the beloved musical. However, I didn’t realize this was going to occur so late in the game. There’s been something like three official US trailers, and at least one international one. I’m reluctant to admit that I’ve seen each released one, but not had the desire to write about any of them. Now I do, quite possibly because this one is listed as the final trailer, and it’s a little under two months until the release of the film. So, here we are.

My first though whilst compiling this, is oh good God! what is Thompson doing writing this screenplay?! Now having said that, I’m even more confused now about whether this film will be good or not, or just so-so. Although, I can’t find anything that consistently says she had any hand in this screenplay. None the less, I don’t think it’ll alter my feelings drastically.

Speaking of writers, and in Gluck’s case, directing, but Gluck and McKenna have a half and half track record themselves. He directed “Easy A”, which was amazing! However he also directed “Friends with Benefits” and “Fired Up!”, neither of which I’ve seen, but I believe were split down the middle on likability. His writing includes those two films as well as a lot of television including creating the now cancelled “The Michael J. Fox Show”. That doesn’t look too good. McKenna did write “The Devil Wears Prada”, which was pretty fun, and “We Bought a Zoo”, which was also okay, but depends on with whom you’re speaking to. I personally enjoyed “Morning Glory”, but then there’s “I Don’t Know How She Does It” and “27 Dresses”, which also went either way. Lets not forget her hand in “Laws of Attraction”. Wow, I haven’t seen many of these films. That’s not looking too good as for why.

Musically, after reading the track listing available on Wikipedia… *sigh*. Why even bother. I’m sure by now you can imagine how terrible this already looks for the outlook of the film. Anyway, while it’s not surprising to see the songs chosen, I’m hesitant to get excited about them. The additional songs also keep the grim look going. The arrangements alone are going to either work or suck. There’s no middle ground. The singing, much like the previous ones, will be bad for the kids, and could go either way on the adults. I’m not at all pleased about Diaz. Can she sing? Is it at least passable? Foxx also has issues, despite any previous success or the fact that he did “Ray” and “Dreamgirls”. Byrne is the same as Diaz. Although, I like her more, I’m skeptical. Should I even finish this, as I’m sure none of it’s going to start looking positive?

Okay… the acting. Fortunately I won’t focus on everyone, as most of the acting from all the trailers looks pretty dreadful when you think about.

Wallis, of course, looks adorable, but then again, she’s young. She’s still a child. So, I’ll give her a pass, for now.

Diaz looks terrible as Hannigan. This has nothing to do with the fact that I don’t think her singing will be good enough for the role, or the film, but her portrayal. This character is supposed to be mean, cruel even. Here, she doesn’t appear like that at all. Sure she’s got some redeeming qualities, not many, but some, but she’s supposed to be evil. She just seems like she’s trying too hard to be funny, and it’s not coming off well in the trailer(s). This is one reason I took so long. I needed to think more on what I feel for the characters. Even Kathy Bates in the 1999 version was more despicable than Diaz will probably be. I feel like you’re supposed to enjoy Hannigan, especially since she does bring a lot of humor with her. She did at one point.

Foxx, as this new version of Daddy Warbucks looks dreadful. His acting looks terrible and his character does nothing for me. This again has to do with the whole trying to make this film funny. I’ve never seen anything so desperate for humor that it makes me want to gag. I’m actually put off by this. It’s already starting to feel like if you laugh, you’ll hate yourself for it as it was a stupid joke.

As this is giving me a headache, I’m going to call it a day. Not normal, but I think the point is clear. If I were to go on, there’d be mentions of the annoying desperate need to include all things social media and other stupid devices to show it’s a contemporary update. This film is not going to be good. Granted, as I saw briefly in a piece online, I’m not the target audience so it makes sense. However, at the same time, it should be treated much better than it appears to have been.


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