Is 'Annie' Something To Sing About? Here's What The Critics Say

The little orphan that could.

Tomorrow may be only a day away, but the newest iteration of the classic musical "Annie," starring Quvenzhane Wallis, is in theaters today. The remake stars Quvenzhane Wallis as Annie, Jamie Foxx as Will Stacks (a new take on Daddy Warbucks), Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan, Rose Byrne as Stacks' assistant Grace and Bobby Cannavale as political advisor Guy.

The new version, directed by Will Gluck, incorporates new characters, new songs and alternate arrangements of old favorite tunes. But does it work? Here's what critics had to say.

Don't come looking for the Original Cast Recording.

"Some songs have survived largely intact, particularly the opening trio of "Maybe," "Hard-Knock Life" and "Tomorrow." But beyond that, it's mostly numbers that nod at the original music before veering off into songs that are either entirely new for the film nor so different that you'll barely recognize them. "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile," for instance, is here only as a Sia pop rendition used to score a fantasy scene. The score frequently includes pieces of songs that are never actually heard, as if to reassure the audience that this is not forgetting the show's roots, but specifically acknowledging them and setting them aside. Whether you find that actually reassuring probably has a lot to do with your perspective." -- Linda Holmes, NPR

Quvenzhane lights up the screen

"A ho-hum remake/update of the movie musical about a plucky orphan and the moneyed patriarch whose icy heart she toasts like campfire marshmallows, Annie has its moments of charm and snap. Quvenzhané Wallis, the Oscar-nominated star of the trippy bayou indie 'Beasts of the Southern Wild,' simply has to skip into a room - and into the frame - to light things up. Her opening-credits, cross-city scampering - leaving school in Harlem and heading downtown to station herself outside an Italian cafe where her real parents, she believes, used to dine - is full of energy and elan. And who can turn the whippersnapper down when she asks to borrow a CitiBike from a stranger returning it to its dock? So what if that's one of the bike-share program's biggest no-no's?" -- Steven Rea, The Philadelphia Inquirer

A ray of optimism

"And yet a quality of willfully naive optimism—of repeatedly neglected and disappointed goodness hauling itself up off the pavement, summoning a smile, and singing out—shines through anyway, and you might or might not be amazed to learn that it cancels out the movie's many flaws. Bottom line: this 'Annie' is a gigantic smiley face, arriving on screens at the tail end of one of the most miserable years in recent American history — a year whose uninterrupted flood of not just bad but national-identity-challenging, often racially toxic news made even some of the most optimistic among us want to crawl into bed, pull the covers up, and stay there until the calendar rolled over." -- Matt Zoller Seitz, RogerEbert.com

Foxx turns in a fun performance

"Jamie Foxx gives his all to his turn as Benjamin Stacks (a modern spin on Daddy Warbucks), and even if the character is thinly, bizarrely written (he wants to be the mayor so more people will like him? despite his total lack of interest in other people and piles upon piles of cash?), Foxx tries his damnedest to have fun with him. Only a true star like Foxx could turn a scene that is, at its most literal core, entirely about a man singing in a helicopter about the modern marvel that is cell phone towers into an entertaining and oddly emotional outing." -- Kate Erbland, Film School Rejects