THE ORIGINAL ANNIE was such a feature of my childhood that I can't even properly say if I "liked" it or not—did I like the bed I slept in, or the house I lived in? It just was.
But going in with a head full of nostalgia might not be the best way to approach the new Annie, which stars Beasts of the Southern Wild's Quvenzhané Wallis as the titular moppet and Jamie Foxx as Will Stacks, a cell-phone tycoon who gambles that adopting a foster kid might help his campaign for mayor of New York City.
This Annie is a shinier, more calculated affair than the 1982 original, even if the bones are mostly the same: Annie is a friendly foster kid (not an orphan, she sternly insists) in the lackluster care of booze-addled Ms. Hannigan (Cameron Diaz). When she's picked up as a campaign prop in Stacks' mayoral bid, she helps warm up his image... AND MAYBE HIS HEART?? And while it's packed with winks for grownups—at one point, Jamie Foxx sings a few bars of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a nod to producer Will Smith—it's ultimately a kids' movie, designed for a generation of cyborgs who grew up perfecting their selfie game. The addition of cell phones, hashtags, and YouTube will no doubt be inherently horrifying to many adults; it's also a perfectly reasonable and target-audience-appropriate set of updates.
Wallis is profoundly adorable, but her Annie is, if anything, a bit too scrappy—there's no pathos, only pluck. And the leaden original songs are dull filler, making the already-long two-hour runtime feel even longer. Overall, though, it's a perfectly reasonable adaptation: silly and high energy, adorable, with enough shoehorned-in talking points about wealth and opportunity to placate the whinging of your liberal conscience.