MUSICAL COMEDY; 1hr 58min
STARRING: Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Rose Byrne
Puppy love: Wallis
With its carrot-topped starlet, its touching show tunes and Carol Burnett’s boozy vamp, 1982’s Annie was a cuddle wrapped in celluloid. Director Will Gluck has sought to bring to old girl up to present-day speed: Beasts of the Southern Wild ’s Wallis takes the title role while Diaz lurches into Burnett’s stellar heels as tyrannical Miss Hannigan. A subdued Foxx is New York City mayoral candidate Will Stacks, an updated Daddy Warbucks who lets Annie into his plutocratic empire to further his career and loosens up while he’s at it (Byrne is his savvy assistant, Grace).
The aim is plainly to retain the cosy flavour while punching it up with today’s sleeker sensibility — hence the relocating of mobile-phone magnate Will to a high-rise apartment and the repositioning of Miss Hannigan as a foster carer. Little Foster Child Annie doesn’t have quite the same ring, though, and nor do the rejigged songs, which are vocally underwhelming. Classic stories don’t always grow in the retelling. Annie redux isn’t eye-wateringly awful, but all the lifting and firming have erased the weepy magic.