'Annie' review: Quvenzhane Wallis is adorable, but everything else about Broadway update stinks

December 19, 2014 11:07 AM

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The Great Depression is long over in the new version of “Annie.” The cheery-irritating Broadway-derived musical from director Will Gluck is set in the present, and lined with signposts of the 21st century: “I love it when you throw me shade!” bellows one character. The word “orphan” is replaced with the more politically correct term “foster kid.” Social media and internet videos are key plot components. Ironic for a franchise spawned by the newspaper comic strip “Little Orphan Annie,” I’m not sure any character in this film actually touches a product of plant pulp.

The film is sometimes so crassly calculated to be contextually and culturally relevant to today’s youth, it seems as if it was written by an algorithm. Its worst contemporary element, however, is its self-referential tone. “Annie” opens with a little redhead girl doing a tapdance number for her scho...

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