Tag Archives: Cameron Diaz

Little Girl Lost

Modernized ‘Annie’ is an underwhelming, quasi-musical mess

1111746 – ANNIE

Annie

Starring Quvenzhane Wallis, Jamie Foxx & Cameron Diaz

Directed by Will Gluck

PG

“You’re such a special little girl,” one character tells the world’s most famous little orphan during this latest musical remake of her well-traveled tale.

And it’s certainly true: Little Orphan Annie, the eternally young waif, has cut a 90-year swath across pop culture, from comic strips to the Broadway stage and beyond. You’ve got to be some kinda special to live nearly 100 years and never look a day over 9.

But most people who are familiar with Annie today know her from the 1982 musical made about the 1970s Broadway production, and that will be the standard—for better and for worse—to which much of this new Annie will be compared.

Perhaps it’s finally time for Little Orphan Annie to come out of the 1920s and into the modern world, and this version does that, all right, putting a shiny contemporary spin on an old, familiar story. But just how well will Annie fans take to mashed-up, hip-hop songs, miscast performers, and a production that sinks far more than often than it soars?

Quvenzhane Wallis and Jamie Foxx

Quvenzhane Wallis & Jamie Foxx

The new Annie, Quvenzhanè Wallis, who received an Academy Award nomination when she was 6 for her starring role in as the unflappable bayou child in Beasts of the Southern Wild, has a relaxed, natural charm and undeniable cuteness. But she’s no “stage kid,” and she’s clearly out of her element in a role requiring extensive singing and dancing.

Jamie Foxx plays Will Stacks, the contemporary equivalent of Daddy Warbucks, now a fat-cat tech tycoon running for mayor of New York. Cameron Diaz is Miss Hannigan, the boozy-floozy foster mom raising Annie—a several other preteen tykes—in a welfare-funded tenement. Bobby Cannvale and Rose Bryne are Stacks’ campaign manager and personal assistant, working hard to humanize his cool, aloof image.

Fine performers all, they’re hamstrung by cinematography, choreography (or lack of it) and staging that leaves them stumbling, bumbling, flailing, wailing and sounding like their vocals have been pumped into an Annie atomizer. Director Will Gluck, whose previous films include the witty teen comedy Easy A and the sexy relationship farce Friends With Benefits, had never directed a musical before. This makes you wonder if he’d ever paid much attention to one, either.

Enter Annie—now a foster child instead of an orphan—in an encounter than becomes a YouTube viral video and a campaign godsend for Stacks, and the opportunity for the moppet to work her magic.

1111746 Ð ANNIEExcept there’s not a lot of magic to be found—certainly not in the signature show tunes, like Tomorrow, Hard Knock Life and Little Girls, which are revised with new lyrics and urbanized, boom-box-y arrangements, and supplemented with some new tunes entirely. The storyline, though mostly hewing to Annie basics, dazzles it up with contemporary window dressing, including a Big Apple setting, jazzy lingo (“janky,” “Bam!”), celebrity cameos (Hey, there’s Michael J. Fox! And Austin Kutcher—and Mila Kunis!) and a breathlessly “today” subplot driven by cell-phone tracking and Twitter postings.

But it all makes for one big, underwhelming quasi-musical mess. Little Orphan Annie has been a kitschy, pop-cultural treasure for nearly a century, arcing across generations with a message of spunk, sunshine, adventure, uplift and the possibilities of better, brighter tomorrows. But most viewers will probably be disappointed to watch this Annie fall—and ring—achingly flat, reminding them mostly of much more enjoyable yesterdays.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Chick Flick Fail

The stars deserve better than this revenge-comedy mess

THE OTHER WOMAN

The Other Woman

Starring Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Directed by Nick Cassavettes

PG-13, 109 min.

 

If The Other Woman didn’t have such a recognizable cast, it might be just plain forgettable. Instead, high-profile stars and a major chick-flick marketing push almost guarantee it will make an even bigger, messier splash as it goes down.

Leslie Mann (This Is 40, The 40-Year Old Virgin) plays Kate, a whiny, neurotic housewife who discovers her cad husband, Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from TV’s Game of Thrones), is having anTHE OTHER WOMAN affair with a sexy Manhattan lawyer, Carly (Cameron Diaz).

So what does Kate do? Why, she befriends her husband’s mistress, naturally!

Then Kate and Carly find out Mark is cheating on them both (gasp!) with another woman, portrayed by former Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton, whose role here (if not her acting career in general) seems to be limited to what can be done in a teeny bikini, in slow motion.

The next step in the mind-bogglingly implausible plot is all three women becoming BFFs and plotting their revenge on the man who can’t be faithful to any of them. Their plan includes spiking his breakfast smoothie with estrogen, swishing his toothbrush in the toilet, replacing his shampoo with hair-removal cream, and putting laxatives in his liquor.

In 2011, the hit comedy Bridesmaids introduced mainstream audiences to the idea that an ensemble cast of gals could be just as raunchily funny as a bunch o’ guys. But “The Other Woman” has none of that movie’s masterful mojo, which begins with a great script and extends through the director.

THE OTHER WOMANIn this case, director Nick Cassavettes (The Notebook) bears much of the blame, lacking the deft touch to bring off the right blend of humor and humanity needed for a “revenge comedy” that ventures into the tricky trifecta of love, marriage and serial adultery. Screenwriter Melissa Stack, a former lawyer herself, supposedly based the Diaz character somewhat on her own experiences as an attorney, but somehow her tale is lacking almost anything any modern female would ever think, say or do.

And poor Coster-Waldau, who as the ever-wayward husband has to suffer for his other-womanizing in so, so many painfully slapstick-ish, potty-humored ways, including enduring an explosive bout of diarrhea, walking through a pane of glass and sprouting a pair of hormonally enhanced man-nipples.

As an actor, he deserves better—and so does everyone else in The Other Woman, and anyone who buys a ticket expecting to see something funnier, something smarter and something better.

 

Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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