It’s hard to get behind up-and-coming actress Quvenzhané Wallis as “Annie”, despite being the youngest Academy Award nominee in history for last year’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
It isn’t because Wallis is unlikable as the down-on-her-luck foster kid living in a group home. She just can’t sing and it’s not her fault.
“Annie” director Will Gluck knows she can’t sing either and let the whole world in on it through his less-than-subtle directorial tricks.
Annie sings a major solo at a charity fundraiser, but her mouth is almost always obscured by the microphone in front of her.
Large segments of other songs — including the classics “Hard Knock Life” and “Tomorrow” — are filmed with Wallis’ back to the camera, at an extreme angle or at a great distance in an attempt to hide Wallis’ flaws as a singer.
For all the grief given to Tom Hooper for his extreme close-up choices during major scenes in 2012’s epic musical “Les Misérables,” at least the audience could tell with absolute certainty that the performances were genuine and authentic.
Outside from the musical spectrum, “Annie” could have actually worked as a family-friendly comedy.
Wallis is charming and lovable aside from her singing, while Jamie Foxx as her rich caretaker is the absolute best thing in the lackluster film.
Choosing Cameron Diaz, however, to fill Carol Burnett’s shoes as Miss Hannigan was a major misstep as Diaz horribly overacts in a very disinterested performance. Burnett would be rolling over in her grave if she had one.
Despite the intentions of producers Will Smith and Jay-Z to modernize the classic tale of an orphaned girl during the Great Depression, this modern “Annie” just doesn’t click, trading in classic songs for cliché references to Twitter and the film industry.