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ANNIE

SYNOPSIS: Annie (Quvenzhane? Wallis) is a young, happy foster kid who was left by her parents on the streets of New York as a baby with the promise that they'd be back for her someday, it's been a hard-knock life ever since with her mean foster mom Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz). But everything's about to change when the hard-nosed tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) - advised by his brilliant VP, Grace (Rose Byrne) and his shrewd and scheming campaign advisor, Guy (Bobby Cannavale) - makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in.

Review by Louise Keller:
As sure as the sun will come out tomorrow, you'll fall in love with Annie! It's a breath of fresh air. It all starts with Quvenzhane Wallis, the little girl who stole our hearts as Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), when she became the youngest Academy Award nominee for Best Actress in a leading role at the age of 9. Now aged 11, as Annie, she delivers an incredibly assured and winning performance as the little foster kid with the heartshaped face, button nose and irresistible smile. She sings, she dances and holds her own against the top cast; adorable in a sassy, not syrupy way. She is a winner.

Based on the much loved musical, director Will Gluck (Friends with Benefits), who has penned the screenplay with The Devil Wears Prada's Aline Brosh McKenna, brings a whole new freshness to the story about the little orphan girl who is adopted by Daddy Warbucks as she searches for her parents. Everything comes together beautifully: the story, the characters, the songs, the staging and the cast. It's as uplifting as a rainbow: fun, funny, engaging and entertaining, tugging with our heartstrings, too.

Daddy Warbucks had been updated into a mobile phone technology king with aspirations to be mayor and Jamie Foxx is perfect in the role as Will Stacks, who doesn't start something he can't win. As for Cameron Diaz's Miss Hannigan, she is a wonderful creation; watching this leggy, likeable star contort her face into sour grimaces is a laugh a minute. And then there is Rose Byrne, who has never been lovelier as Will's assistant Grace, injecting a gentle quirkiness that Byrne does so well. Diaz and Byrne also sing - a welcome surprise.

I love Will's luxurious ultra modern 'Starship Enterprise' smart house with voice recognition; the myriad of stars on the multi-screen panels on the walls of Annie's room, when she is invited to stay as a publicity stunt are magical. The Moon Quake film premiere and fantasy after-party is colourful, the open auditions to cast Annie's long lost parents a hoot and Sandy the dog does everything required to be a cute addition.

Gluck weaves the songs seamlessly into the mix and I defy anyone who leaves the cinema without humming one of the toe-tapping tunes. I couldn't stop smiling throughout this happy film that the whole family will embrace.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

ANNIE (PG)
(US, 2014)

CAST: Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhane Wallis, Cameron Diaz, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Davis Zayas,

PRODUCER: Jay Brown, Will Gluck, Jay-Z, James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith, Caleeb Pinkett, Tyran Smith, Will Smith

DIRECTOR: Will Gluck

SCRIPT: Will Gluck, Aline Brosh McKenna (stage play book by Thomas Meehan; comic strip Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Gardy

EDITOR: Tia Nolan

MUSIC: Greg Kurstin

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Marcia Hinds

RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 18, 2014






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