The you-know-what will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar, in “Annie” (Columbia). It’s an exuberant adaptation of the 1977 Broadway musical — which previously became a 1982 film — about the little orphan with big dreams.
All of the hummable songs, and a few new ones, are showcased in lavish production numbers, including the aforementioned “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard-Knock Life.”
Purists may quibble at radical departures from the original story, based on the comic strip by Harold Gray, but no matter. “Annie” remains a fun and wholesome movie for all ages with positive messages about love, family and forgiveness.
Director Will Gluck, who co-wrote the screenplay with Aline Brosh McKenna, presents a thoroughly modern Annie (Quvenzhane Wallis). Gone is the 1930s Depression-era setting, the cameo by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and even the star’s signature curly red hair.
Instead, we’re plunged into the hurly-burly of present-day Manhattan. Annie, no longer an orphan but a foster child, lives with four other girls in the home of Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz).
As a temporary guardian, Miss Hannigan remains a wicked, drunken mess. But this time, she is at least offered a shot at redemption.
Annie is spunky and street-smart. Every week she sits outside the Domani (get it?) Restaurant, hoping for a glimpse of her real parents, who had their first date there.
“We all have families somewhere,” Annie reassures her friends, never losing hope in a miracle.
Her guardian angel arrives in an unlikely form: Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks, who in this version has morphed into Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx). The gruff billionaire owner of a cellphone company, Stacks has lofty ambitions of running for mayor. But first, his assistant, Grace (Rose Byrne), and wily campaign adviser, Guy (Bobby Cannavale), think Stacks needs to soften his image.
What better way than to become a foster parent?
Filmed on location, “Annie” is a picturesque valentine to the Big Apple, which has never looked better. As their kids sing along, keen-eyed parents will spot a number of nods to the original source material, such as the name of the band in one key scene: The Leaping Lizards.(A-II, PG)
nExodus: Gods and Kings
The bad news is that Ridley Scott’s 3-D epic “Exodus: Gods and Kings” (Fox) turns out to be big but boring. The good news is that, somewhere, Cecil B. DeMille is at ease, knowing his 1956 blockbuster “The Ten Commandments” remains the definitive mass-media take on this crucial portion of the Old Testament.
Just as DeMille’s fleshing out of the story is not above satire, though (witness Billy Crystal’s hilarious channeling of Edward G. Robinson’s Dathan), so Scott’s tale is not without its promising aspects. Chief among them, for viewers of faith, is the conversion story his film introduces into the life of Moses (Christian Bale). Here, the patriarch’s series of trials and triumphs takes him from religious skeptic to true believer.
Seti (John Turturro), and adoptive brother of Seti’s heir, Ramses (Joel Edgerton), Moses is sent into exile when Hegep (Ben Mendelsohn), a corrupt official whose wrongdoing he has uncovered, reveals his lowly origin as the child of a Hebrew slave.
Working as a shepherd in Midian, Moses finds solace in married life (Maria Valverde plays his loyal, devout spouse Zipporah). But his contentment is once again disturbed when God — oddly personified by an 11-year-old boy (Isaac Andrews) — calls on him to lead his enslaved compatriots to freedom.
While Scott’s picture has computer-generated effects to spare, especially in the plague scenes, its human interaction is stilted and uninvolving. Thus Moses’ potentially intriguing spiritual development is only sketched out in the dialogue, and lacks the heft that might propel the audience along on its trajectory.
The film contains considerable combat and other violence with some gore, religious themes requiring mature discernment as well as restrained sexual content, including a gay innuendo and two marital bedroom scenes. (A-III, PG-13)