Performances lie in extremes, but not believable or even palatable enough to pull off an onscreen musical. At one end, you find Stacks and Grace (Rose Byrne) as more grounded. Foxx and Byrne delivers surprisingly adept turns at song and dance. Less palatable are moments are when Diaz and Cannavale arrive. Diaz is doing her best Carol Burnett impression and, even then, its still not that pleasant to watch. All bravado and screeching, Diaz’s Hannigan stumbles around in a booze-fueled haze but lacks bite. Wallis’ take on Annie translates as twee but resilient, and still a bit green around the gills. There are moments when not even her eagerness can save her from overacting.
The music of this Annie is catchier than the original but the fact that the majority of this cast is not known for their singing chops dulls the shine a bit. It’s easy to tap your foot as you listen to tunes that have been embedded into the cultural bedrock for so long: “It’s the Hard Knock Life” is still the shiniest song here. A nice addition is an original song penned by Sia, “Opportunity”, which allows Wallis to showcase her vocal stylings to their full brightness. As far as holiday films go this is perfect for lightening the holiday hangover but ultimately it's equal parts onerous and energetic, overreaching in its attempt not buckle under the weight of previous iterations. It appears as if this latest version of Annie is destined to merely become a liner note in its eponymous saga, but it goes down merrily.
Allie Gemmill | @alliegem