Annie (2014) Parent Review
The script manages to update itself by examining the behind-the-scenes motivations of a do-good politician. But it also keeps the tunes that left you wanted to breaking out singing afterwards.
Quvenzhané Wallis became the youngest person ever nominated for a Best Actress Oscar when she starred in the 2012 movie Beasts of the Southern Wild. Now the 11-year-old takes on the iconic role of a feisty foster child in the movie Annie (based on the Broadway Musical). Luckily she brings the same spunk to the title character that helped her win a nod from the Academy Awards.
Annie lives with four other girls (Zoe Margaret Colletti, Nicolette Pierini, Eden Duncan-Smith, Amanda Troya) in a New York City foster home run by Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz), a mean and usually inebriated caregiver. The girls have learned to sneak in and out on the fire escape, thus avoiding any more contact than necessary with their unhappy and punitive housemother. Despite the less than ideal situation, Annie remains eternally optimistic that one day her parents will return and reclaim her.
Things seem to change for the better when political hopeful Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) snatches Annie from the middle of the road just before she is hit by a speeding van. Luckily for the struggling mayoral candidate, someone catches the act on his phone camera and uploads it to the Internet. The viral clip instantly boosts Will’s popularity with the city’s voters.
Will’s campaign manager Guy (Bobby Cannavale) couldn’t be happier with the near mishap. He convinces Will, a germophobic loner, to take Annie to lunch. He’s even more confident they can win the election when Will reluctantly agrees to let Annie move into his upscale New York penthouse. At first, Will’s assistant Grace (Rose Bryne) doesn’t feel comfortable with the false premise designed only to increase ratings. But she can’t help being enchanted by the outgoing little girl who is soon charming everyone at Stack’s cell phone company.
Like the 1982 film adaptation of the same stage play, this version has plenty of melodic interludes. And the cast puts in more than adequate performances. But don’t expect as many big production numbers as the first movie. Will Starks, a confirmed bachelor, doesn’t have a houseful of servants ready to break into song and dance when Annie arrives on the doorstep.
As expected, this film includes the same content concerns as its predecessor. Miss Hannigan is only sober enough to throw herself at any man who unluckily crosses her path. That results in both mild sexual innuendo and some suggestive dialogue. Her depiction of a caregiver is also a disservice to every diligent, compassionate adult that opens his or her home to needy children.
The script manages to update itself by examining the behind-the-scenes motivations of a do-good politician. As well, it makes cell phones and social media an integral part of the storyline. And happily for fans of the play and/or original film starring Aileen Quinn, this movie keeps the best parts of each, especially the tunes that left you wanting to break out singing as you left the theater.Directed by Will Gluck. Starring Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhané Wallis, Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz. Running time: 118 minutes. Updated May 18, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Annie (2014) here.
Annie (2014) Parents Guide
This classic character was first introduced in the comic strip, Little Orphan Annie, by Harold Gray. Her story was later adapted into a stage play by Thomas Meehan, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin.
From the Studio: Academy Award® nominee Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wilds) stars as Annie, a young, happy foster kid who’s also tough enough to make her way on the streets of New York in 2014. Originally left by her parents as a baby with the promise that they’d be back for her someday, it’s been a hard knock life ever since with her mean foster mom Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz). But everything’s about to change when the hard-nosed tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) – advised by his brilliant VP, Grace (Rose Byrne) and his shrewd and scheming campaign advisor, Guy (Bobby Cannavale) – makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in. Stacks believes he’s her guardian angel, but Annie’s self-assured nature and bright, sun-will-come-out-tomorrow outlook on life just might mean it’s the other way around.
Talk about the movie with your family…
Why is Annie so insistent that she is a foster child and not an orphan? What requirements are there for being a foster parent? What appears to be Miss Hannigan’s motivation for assuming the role of caregiver? How do the girls in her care watch out for one another?
Several of the characters in this story have secrets they are trying to keep. What do they hope will not be discovered? Why do they believe people will think less of them? Are there things you are afraid of others finding out? Why?
Will Stacks originally agrees to take Annie in as a way to help his political campaign. What things might politicians do to connect with voters?