Jamie Foxx has shown, over the years, that he can take almost any role out there. Action film? Sure, he’s down for those. Historical drama? Got those on the resume as well. Comedy? You bet. And then there’s the musicals with Foxx showing humongous talent with the song and dance piece as well. Dude can do it all. And now, one of those musicals is ranked #1 on IMDB’s free to stream list. That’s right, the remake of Annie is up on the platform right now as their most popular offering.
The Annie remake recasts the original classic with an African-American cast and sets the story in the modern-day. In some ways, it follows the path of the original Broadway musical and 1977 movie but along the way makes some significant changes. The titular Annie lives in Harlem in a foster care home under the scrutinizing and comically evil eye of Ms. Hannigan. She and the other girls do their chores, skirting around Hannigan’s rules and, of course, performing musical numbers. Along the way, she is rescued from being hit by a car by Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), this movie’s version of Daddy Warbucks. This guy is running for Mayor of the city and it’s deemed a good public relations move to have him spend time with a down-on-her-luck kid after the video of the rescue goes viral.
In this version of Annie, Jamie Foxx comes off a little less sympathetic than the original Warbucks, but no less rich. He treats Annie to all the trappings of his fortune including the high-rise apartment, personal helicopter, movie premieres, and other galavanting around the city. They clearly develop a friendship with the wise-beyond-her-years Annie helping Will understand some things about himself. Here, check out the trailer for Annie:
This version of Annie does begin to diverge from the original story around some of the more sinister plotting regarding her long-gone parents. There’s a kidnapping in here and some other pieces that weren’t part of the stage and screen classic. It’s updated for a modern age, but they do go a bit over the top with this part of the story in particular. But all of the hallmark musical numbers are in here, this time with the bigger backdrop of New City City helping to add to the size and scope of the production. As the movie moves along, there are predictable learning moments on the part of Jamie Foxx as Stacks who comes to realize that life can’t be all about money and work. Annie does help teach him that there is something more.
Joining Jamie Foxx in Annie is Quvenzhane Walls who had a breakthrough performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild two years before. She handles the part with excellence, easily tackling the musical numbers and lightning up the screen in her performance. There’s also Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan, who starts of brutish but has a bit of a softer side in this one. Rose Byrne plays Grace, Stacks’ assistant and later love interest. And then there’s Bobby Canavale who takes a villain turn here as well.
Will Gluck was in the director’s chair for Annie after having helmed Easy A and Friends With Benefits. But unlike those films, this version of Annie didn’t land anywhere close with critics. It finished at 28% on Rotten Tomatoes and 33 on Metacritic. Reviews tended to enjoy the Walls casting and thought Jamie Foxx made an adequate stand-in for Warbucks, but thought that the story fell down around the margins. The musical numbers were big set pieces, but the story structure was a bit frenetic, wanting to handle too many things at once.
But adding a big star like Jamie Foxx to this film, plus the cultural staying power of the Annie story update along more diverse lines did help it at the box office. On its $80 million budget, it managed to take in $134 million in ticket sales. In this way, the flick did all right for the studio. And Walls ended up being nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical.
As for Jamie Foxx, there might not be any musicals coming soon for the actor, but there are plenty of movies. He’s set to reprise his Electro role in the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home, making his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Plus there’s They Cloned Tyrone alongside John Boyega. And that’s not all, far from it. He’s currently filming Day Shift, a vampire flick for Netflix, and will also play Mike Tyson in an upcoming biopic. So there’s tons on his plate. For the time being, go check out the guy in a softer role when you watch Annie totally free on IMDB.