I was pessimistic about this movie not because I have a thing about reboots, which I oddly don’t, but because I absolutely hated the original. It is wholesomely shallow with not justification for any plot points. Yuck. This updated version wasn’t anything special but at least it didn’t make me gag.
The updated script was actually smart and well written. There were some delightful jokes as well as some well done acknowledgments of the old movie. The movie opens with a curly-haired red-head being sickeningly one-dimensional and tap dancing. The dialogue and characters felt fresh even though they are obviously not. For example, instead of patronizing Daddy Warbucks we get a slightly more dynamic Mr. Stacks.
The youth in the cast was extremely talented. Annie wasn’t some polished starlet moving from cue to cue. Sure, she wasn’t perfect and there were a lot of shots of not her face when she was singing, because her lip singing was pathetic, but she at least played an Annie that could warm the heart of a distant businessman believably.
There is only one issue I can take with Jamie Foxx in this movie. He wasn’t shirtless ever. I know this is a family friendly movie but they could have given me a little gratuitous nudity. The man dances and sings though so I guess that is good enough. He can croon at my any day of the week.
Rose Byrne was actually amazing. If I had to pick my favorite performance in this movie it would be hers as Grace. She was perfect for the role. She was funny and endearing and just a pleasure to watch.
Cameron Diaz, on the other hand, was a mix of good and bad. When she was being mean it was one of the worst bits of acting I’ve seen outside of a made for tv movie. When she was being deep and showing character development she was fantastic and her singing scenes were the most bearable. If you grit your teeth through the worst parts the best parts pretty much make her performance meh-to-eh.
The supporting cast, especially the characters Nash, Lou, and Walter, was well-balanced. These three especially were solid, above average performances. Mrs. Kovacevic was played a little over the top but not so much that she detracted. Guy could have used some more layers of development to make his actions a little more supported by his back story. Don’t get me wrong, I love that this movie actually gave a reason for trying to ruin Annie’s life with fake parents, but I felt that the writers might have made Guy a little more obviously dark at the beginning.
The worst part about this movie was the singing. I know that they had to keep the songs in the movie. I get that. But half the time they had to stop the story completely or jam the lyrics in the dialogue to have any segue-way. The singing was fine. But the live musical aspect felt half-hearted at best. One or two songs were done with minimal awkwardness but for the most part the best use of the music was as the score in the background that the cast had prerecorded.
The best part about this movie was that it did a pretty respectable job of justifying the major plot points. Even making Annie and Stacks African-American, which some people see ulterior motives in, is completely justified when you look at the cues in their character backgrounds. Instead of a statement I feel that the choice was made because it made the most sense. With the character backgrounds it would have been ignorant to make any other demographic choice. And it wouldn’t do to change the backgrounds because they justify many of the plot points and key character developments. In the world of this movie this casting choice doesn’t even play a part.
An added bonus was the examination of the foster care system requirements. One source of water. One window. One chair to every ten persons. Now, every foster care family I know is amazing and the children well cared for but I can believe that not all are so lucky.
Verdict: This was an average movie, had more substance than the original, possessed an above average intellect, and presented not too many painful moments with acting and singing that ruin the joy. This is exactly what it claims to be, a family movie for the holiday. It is not on par with some other movies for this demographic that have come out this year but it will kill an hour or two. If you don’t need to see a movie though you won’t miss much by skipping this one.