Movie critics are feeling more tricked than treated by director Will Gluck's contemporary update of "Annie," which stars Jamie Foxx as a New York City billionaire who takes in a foster kid (Quvenzhane Wallis, of "Beasts of the Southern Wild") to advance his mayoral campaign. Ironically, a film that hinges on a cynical, calculated ploy is being called out as just that.
The Times' Betsy Sharkey wrote, "Gluck's glam, grim re-imagining of the Depression-era musical about the hard-hearted rich man and the little girl who melts him is truly depressing." She added, "Cynicism lurks around every corner, hides behind nearly every smile and overtakes the story. Though some of Broadway's 'Annie' remains ... very little about the new version feels good."
The Boston Globe's Ty Burr said the new "Annie" starts promisingly enough, but "the unforced cleverness of the opening scenes gives way to lazy plotting, awkwardly staged musical numbers, and car chases. By the end, the movie resembles just another formulaic, family-friendly piece of product, one the kids will enjoy and you'll endure as it goes in the DVD player for the 40th time."
Not every critic has panned "Annie," however. NPR's Linda Holmes, for one, wrote, "If you love the original musical, know that this is not that. The music has been largely transformed into sweetened, highly produced modern radio pop, which I personally find enormously less pleasurable than the original songs. ... Despite any reservations about the music, it is a charming, lovely little movie."