'Annie' is stuck in the middle

December 18, 2014 5:03 PM

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In the 1982 big-screen version of the 1977 Broadway musical "Annie," the titular orphaned redhead was an annoying little sprite. I get that she's meant to be a beacon of Depression-era optimism, but at what point does a likable child become an artificially peppy, unconvincing robot? Annie still needs to demonstrate identifiable human behavior, not act like Small Wonder set to mega-cheerful.

So it seems promising when the new, present-day "Annie" opens with a chirpy redhead giving a class presentation emphatically rejected by her classmates as earnest and dull. Then another girl named Annie (Quvenzhane Wallis, Oscar nominee for "Beasts of the Southern Wild") delivers a lively, rhythmic ...

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