Parents' Guide to

Annie (2014)

By Yvonne Condes, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 7+

Update of classic musical is cute but a bit hokey.

Movie PG 2014 118 minutes
Annie (2014) Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 7+

Based on 55 parent reviews

age 7+

Classic Musical Gets a Hip Harlem Update

The classic Little Orphan Annie many of us grew up with has undergone a makeover. She's no longer a redhead in tap shoes. She's a black foster kid from Harlem whose red curls have been replaced with an Afro-esque hairdo and whose tap shoes have given way to sneakers. She lives in the modern version of an orphanage--a multi-foster-child home in a rundown part of the city--with the ever-wicked Miss Hannigan. In this version, Annie meets the modern day Warbucks, cell phone magnate Will Stacks, when he pulls her out of traffic. Annie, Stacks' campaign manager, and his devoted secretary Grace all agree that if Annie stays with Stacks for awhile, his uncaring image will improve in the polls and net him the election. Stacks reluctantly agrees, not expecting to fall hard for Annie, her dog named Sandy (after the hurricane, it's explained) and even Grace. A lot of people decry this update, saying the classical musical didn't need yet another new version. This is understandable; the show has been done millions of times on Broadway and had two great film versions before this. However, the update does have its advantages. Annie's original situation is handled much more realistically. It's heavily implied her parents abandoned her, and Hannigan, while not abusive, does everything but stick her last toe over that line. The girls are not little Cinderellas, though they do clean the whole house in one scene/musical number. Instead they're just lonely kids whose only guardian is substandard. This takes away some of the romanticism that tends to pervade other versions, which is a plus. It also makes Hannigan a more well-developed character since it needs to be explained why and how she got to be what she is. For their part, Stacks and Grace are better-developed, too. Stacks does indulge in some of the stereotypical behavior of a rich guy who finally made it out of a rough neighborhood and now looks down on people of lower social classes. The way he changes, however, is handled without a lot of lovey-dovey stuff. In fact, viewers may be pleased to see the new sassy, smart Annie shooting straight and challenging him to man up. Grace does the same, and her efforts are rewarded. She also learns the value of friendship and love after confessing to Annie that she's always had a friendless background. There are minor caveats. Hannigan's behavior is the big noted one. A store owner tells Annie to get rid of his expired drinks in exchange for money--by changing the expiration dates. Mild swearing occurs. When Annie says Sandy needs to "go," Stacks asks if it's "champagne or gelato," among other comparisons. There are also some blatant lies and other inappropriate behavior from a campaign manager, which puts Annie in danger. Otherwise though, this update is pretty good.

This title has:

Too much swearing
1 person found this helpful.
age 10+

Annie - I enjoyed the music!

My son enjoyed it and he's never been interested in musicals except a few nursery rhymes as an infant. He likes hero films/cartoons such as Big Hero 6 to Batman to the comedic Flinstones. I preferred it to 'Into the Woods' which had some disturbing scenes and adult based themes.

This title has:

Great messages
1 person found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (55):
Kids say (84):

The best scene in this generally likable musical is the first one. A little redheaded girl sings an inspiring poem, and you think it will be the same old story; then she sits down, and the Annie of this movie, Wallis, appears. She does her school report on social class differences, and you get the idea that this Annie will be much different than the one in the classic tale. But while it's refreshing to see a new, modern take on Annie -- as well as any kids' movie that talks about class and poverty -- Annie doesn't quite live up to its potential. It misses many opportunities to build the characters and offer teachable moments, instead opting for cheesy dialogue and endless panoramic views of New York City. The lead characters lack passion and emotion; we never fully understand why Stacks is so hard or why Grace is such a workaholic, making it hard to embrace the family they'll become. It drags a bit and is convoluted and hokey at the end.

Still, Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) is impressive -- she outshines her foster dad in every scene. And Diaz is fun as the wretched, aging almost-pop star, Miss Hannigan. Jay-Z and Sia updated the music and added original songs which, although sometimes great, upstage the rest of the movie. Annie isn't perfect, but it's an entertaining musical with a good mix of the old-fashioned Annie spirit and modern life.

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