2014-12-19

Annie – Reluctantly Likable

by Yo Snyder

I have never been so upset about liking a movie as much as I
was with Annie. I know, that sounds
kind of strange; after all, why would anyone be upset about liking a movie?
Well, here’s the thing, ever since I heard they were doing a new version of Annie, I was sure it just wasn’t going
to be any good. I mean, come on, a remake of Annie? That’s a terrible idea. Why do it? So there I was, sitting
in a darkened theater certain I wouldn’t like this new Annie, in fact secretly hoping it would be terrible so I could have
the fun of writing a scathing “I told you so” review, and about halfway through
I found myself admitting, rather reluctantly and grumbly, “I think I actually
like this movie.” And I do. In fact, Annie
is a delightful, light-hearted, heart-warming, just plain fun film that will
leave you feeling good. It’s campy and silly and saccharine and emotional in
all the right ways. It’s charming, the songs are as memorable and enjoyable as
always, and it’s just hard not to like
Annie
. So there you go, I didn’t want to like it, but I couldn’t help
liking it.

I think a lot of that has to do with the inherent charm of
the story of Annie. It’s an
interesting story because just about every character in it has some sort of
redemptive arc, which makes it very uplifting and enjoyable. This was
highlighted by the addition of a new song called “Start Again”, which was a
surprisingly poignant song amid the rest of the light-hearted, fun tunes. The
song talks about (or is it sings about?) how various characters had experienced
life one way in their past, but despite setbacks and dissatisfactions, they
weren’t going to let the past define the future; instead they would start
again. I guess I found that song particularly moving because that’s exactly
what Jesus provides; a way for us to truly start again, to be someone new. His
death and resurrection cleared a way for us to move past who we used to be, to
move past our sins and mistakes, and instead enjoy new life as a new creation
through starting again with him. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Many start thinking about
what they’d like to change during the Christmas/New Year’s holiday season, and
one of the great gifts God has given to us all the chance to not just start
over in a new year, but to start over with a new life through Jesus Christ.

It’s often been said if you’re going to do a remake of
anything popular, the new version either needs to be much better or it needs to
be different. While I can’t say that this new Annie attains the first criteria – I’m hard pressed to say that
it’s at all better than the version most are familiar with – it is definitely
different, and reluctantly I found that difference to be kind of fun. No, this
isn’t the Carol Burnett version of Ms. Hannigan, but then nothing could be.
Cameron Diaz wisely goes in a different direction, one that’s campily
over-the-top and makes the role her own. At first I didn’t like it, but much
like the rest of the film, it grew on me and I came to realize it was the right
choice. Plus she plays Ms. Hannigan’s change of heart so pitch perfect that
it’s actually quite touching. No, this isn’t the Albert Finney version of
“Daddy” Warbucks, and in fact, Jamie Foxx doesn’t even play that character.
However, his Mr. Stacks provides some of the better laughs and has a charm all
his own so that I soon didn’t mind that he wasn’t actually “Daddy” Warbucks.
And as for Quvenzhane Wallis’ Annie, well, it’s definitely a different Annie,
but no less endearing.

On top of a solid cast that’s clearly having fun with what
is often intentionally meant to be silly and campy material, the film does a
pretty good job of updating the classic Annie
songs. No, they don’t have the same impact and punch as the classic versions,
but they’re still fun and catchy and light-hearted. In fact, that could pretty
much sum up the whole movie. It’s fun, light-hearted, charming and infectious.
No, it’s not the greatest musical every made. In fact, it can be pretty goofy
and silly at times, but that turns out to be part of what makes fun. It’s just
nice to have a movie that isn’t afraid to have some good, clean fun, which
could make Annie one of the go-to-movies of choice for families looking for
some holiday fun at the movies.

Score: 5 out of 7 – I
really didn’t think I’d like this new version of Annie, but it’s hard not to. It’s just so sincere and innocent and
goofy and fun, something that can easily be enjoyed by the whole family, that I
just couldn’t help liking it. If you’re looking for a fun family outing, you
could a lot worse than this new version of Annie.