‘I’m putting on my best show!’ – Annie (2014) review

The trend of remaking classic movies has been around for a number of years now, and it was only going to be so long before the trend reached the movie musical genre. We should have expected it really. Annie has already had the remake treatment once, when the original 1982 movie was given the Disney makeover in 1999, but in 2014 it was time once more for the famous little orphan to be brought back into the limelight, bringing the story right into the 21st century.

Starring Jamie Foxx as William Stacks (a new take on daddy Warbucks), Cameron Diaz as Hannigan Quvenzhane Wallis as Annie, this modern remake manages to keep the charm and lessons of the original story whilst creating something new and refreshing. The story of a little girl abandoned by her birth parents, holding onto the hope that they may one day come back for her, being taken in to the home of a millionaire and working her way into his heart is much loved and very well known and that is still at the heart of this movie, with a  very up to date twist.

Annie

Instead of a millionaire welcoming an orphan into his home just for the holidays, Annie is first invited to stay as a political technique to make Stacks look better to the voters as he tries to run for mayor of New York. Obsessed with work and making his phone business the very best out there, Stacks at first regards Annie as a messy nuisance but soon it is clear that even he can’t resist her charms. Instead of a filthy old orphanage, Annie and her friends are instead fostered by Hannigan who ignores the young girls in favour of drink and reminiscing about her glory days as a performer.

Some of the old touches of the classic Annie we all know and love are still there. Annie still finds Sandy wandering the streets, Grace still cares for the little girl whilst pretending not to have feelings for her employer and Miss Hannigan still has that famous change of heart when it comes to Annie’s final fate. The much loved songs have been given a modern twist, and whilst they are no where near as catchy as they used to be, they still have that charm and the new songs added for the remake fit in well with the whole feel.

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The cast carry the story well. It’s impossible not to love little Quvenzhane as Annie (and she shows off a wonderful voice), she’s full of sass as well as having that wonderful sweetness, and Jamie Foxx plays the work obsessed Stacks effortlessly, showing the character’s point of view change throughout the movie. Rose Byrne is lovely as Grace and Cameron Diaz impresses as Hannigan. Bobby Cannavale plays Guy, Stacks’ right hand business man, who takes on the villainous role played by Rooster in the classic. He wants the money and can easily convince Hannigan to join in with the plan. But whilst he stays the villain, Hannigan has second thoughts when she finds out what he plans to do with the girl.

The story is fully brought into the 21st century during the final chase scene. Instead of relying on helicopters or fast cars alone, Stack’s, Grace, Hannigan and the other children use social media to track down the kidnapped Annie. With every photo posted of her online, they can follow her down to her exact location. How very modern. This film is also brilliantly self aware, with jokes made throughout about randomly bursting into song and dancing in the streets.

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Whilst it is somewhat strange to see Annie played out in such a modern way, this is a good example of  how to bring a older story up to line with current times. It fits right into the world we know now, with televisions everywhere, high tech homes and social media frenzies all whilst still feeling like the Annie we know and love.

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