Actors: Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Rose Byrne
Director: Will Gluck
Format: Blu-ray, Ultraviolet, Widescreen
Dubbed: Spanish, French
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Number of discs: 2
Studio: SONY PICTURES
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Run Time: 118 minutes
Although I am forever grateful that it was not Will Smith’s unholy offspring cast in the iconic title role, I don’t think that Quvenzhané Wallis has the abilities needed to carry it off convincingly. For one thing, the musical numbers mostly feel at the quality level of an amateur production, and the chemistry in the film feels contrived from sequence to sequence, saved only by the support of veteran actors Jamie Foxx and Rose Byrne. But for every musical number that Foxx is able to add some charm to and all of the likeable comedic charms of Byrne are not enough to make up for five minutes of Cameron Diaz’s atrocious performance, both in comedic and musical abilities.
I have to focus on the performances, because casting was what this film became about once they decided to make Annie African American rather than red-headed. Before its release, this 2014 re-imagining of the classic stage musical was already given the nickname “Blannie,” which they seem to embrace within the presentation of the first 30-minutes of the film, however contradictory it may be. We are first introduced to an apathetic (a.k.a. too cool for school) Annie (Wallis) as she sits bored in a classroom, but only after poking fun at the cheerfully optimistic red-headed classmate. This Annie is also optimistic, but that contradiction doesn’t seem to bother filmmaker Will Gluck as he uses this opening sequence to degrade gingers. I have one suggestion: if you are trying to make an equal-opportunity piece of entertainment that is more politically correct, don’t begin by tearing down another race or group of people.
But Gluck wants to have his cake and eat it too with his Annie; she is both cheerful and optimistic while being a street-smart realist. Basically, this updated young orphan has wisdom beyond nearly every other cartoonish character within the narrative. Not all of this update is terrible, but it seems that the best parts have very little to do with what made the material a success in the first place. The most iconic songs are buried within an over-mixed soundtrack, so that we have redux versions of “Tomorrow.” Much of this may come from Wallis’ limited musical abilities, though she shines with the right material. It is odd to me that the musical highlight of the film adaptation of the classic material was “
an original song written for this film.
Much of the poor choices made by the filmmakers seem to come during the first half of the film, or maybe that’s just because this is where a majority of Diaz’s performance lies. I have never though of Diaz as much of a singer, which was readily confirmed every time she opened her mouth to vomit a verse, but it was her over-acting in a misguided attempt towards humor which quickly became unbearable. Foxx and Byrne exist in a completely different film from Diaz, with Wallis stuck in the middle of the inconsistent mess.
The Blu-ray combo pack comes with a DVD and a Digital HD copy of the film. Exclusive to the Blu-ray is a large collection of special features that include five sing-along tracks and one deleted song. There are also several collections of outtakes, both for the human actors and the nearly entirely unnecessary canine character of
is also Annie trivia and several featurettes about the making of the film,
including audition and training footage. Included on both DVD and Blu-ray are
the making-of featurette, director’s commentary and a music video. Sandy
Entertainment Value: 5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 3.5/10
Historical Significance: 2/10
Special Features: 7/10