ANNIE – Review by Susan Granger

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ANNIE_INTL_1SHT_TSR_LK2_06.indd“Annie” had its world premiere in August, 1976, at Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT. No one associated with that show or its subsequent incarnations could have possibly envisioned this cloying, superficial debacle. Based upon Harold Gray’s popular comic strip “Little Orphan Annie,” the Depression-era story revolved around an optimistic moppet, her dog Sandy and her benefactor, billionaire Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks.Updated to the present with a multicultural cast, the sassy, spunky tyke (Quvenzhane Wallis) is temporarily adopted by a cynical cellphone mogul, Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), as a ploy for voter appeal when he runs for Mayor of New York City. At his side are his assistant Grace (Rose Byrne) and campaign manager Guy (Bobby Cannavale). Read on…

Meanwhile in Harlem, bitter, alcoholic Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz) takes in foster kids to get a monthly stipend from the city. Sensing the possibility of riches, she passes off imposters as Annie’s birth parents.

Discarding much of Thomas Meehan’s book, Charles Strouse’s music and Martin Charnin’s lyrics, it’s scripted by Aline Brosh McKenna (“27 Dresses”) and director Will Gluck (“Easy A”), who hasn’t a clue about helming a musical. New songs by Gia, Greg Kurstin and Gluck are abysmal, which is surprising since Jay Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith produced.

One of the worst stage-to-screen adaptations, its ineptitude is exemplified when Grace shows Annie her ‘new’ home, a, cavernous ultramodern penthouse, to “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here.” And “Moonquake Lake” serves as a gimmicky movie-within-a-movie – with Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Rihanna.

Oscar-nominated for her natural authenticity in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” 11 year-old Quvenzhane Wallis is not a singer. Jamie Foxx is – but his numbers are forgettable. And neither Rose Byrne nor Cameron Diaz should bank on musical comedies in the future.

FYI: John Huston made “Annie” into a movie musical in 1982. As wretched as it was, this is worse!

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, this rebooted “Annie” is a flawed 4, as the bling-besotted waif advises, “Save your dreams for good stuff, like shopping with an unlimited credit card.”

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.