Film / Annie (2014)

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Based on the 1972 musical of the same name, which in turn is based on the comic strip Little Orphan Annie, Annie is a 2014 musical film starring Quvenzhané Wallis, Cameron Diaz, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale and Jamie Foxx.

New York City, 2014. Ten-year-old Annie Bennett (Wallis) has been bounced around a whole bunch of foster homes but is currently living with tantrum-prone, alcoholic and irresponsible Miss Hannigan (Diaz). Cell phone tycoon and mayoral candidate William Stacks (Foxx) pulls her out of the way of a moving car while she attempts to save a stray dog from a couple of bullies, and the footage of this goes viral. Stacks, desperately needing a boost in the polls, tracks down Annie on the advice of his political adviser Guy Danlily (Cannavale), and sends his assistant Grace Farrell (Byrne) to invite her to a lunch for publicity. Annie manages to convince Stacks that he'd get a bigger boost and more publicity opportunities if she moved in with him, and it works. Gradually, Annie grows on Stacks, and the relationship between them grows more genuine. Guy, seeing the polls plateauing with the election closing in, enlists Hannigan to help him hire fake parents for Annie to put Stacks back in the spotlight in time for Election Day.

Unlike its predecessors, Annie doesn't just focus on the rags-to-riches story, but takes the time to dwell on the effect living in poverty to begin with can have on people and the lengths it can drive them to.

Since Annie is an update of a film of a play adapted from a comic strip, all plot points it has in common with its source material are Late Arrival Spoilers, and as such, are unmarked. Plot points new to this version are spoilertagged.

This film contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc:
    • Hannigan smugly informs Annie that she's arranged for her to be moved to another home very early in the film after she messes with her in front of the social worker. This is never mentioned again, because before it can happen, enter Stacks.
    • Annie catches Stacks without his hairpiece, but other than a one-off joke with Grace about she "shouldn't bank on the hair", it's completely dropped.
  • Abusive Parents: Hannigan's still a mean piece of work, and now she's an outright foster parent.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Oliver Warbucks is renamed William Stacks.
    • Miss Agatha Hannigan gets her first name changed to Colleen.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Rooster and Lily, Hannigan's brother and his significant other, are two major antagonists who are cut. Considering their role in the source musical as the ones who act as Annie's fake parents, that wouldn't necessarily work out here. Their part in "Easy Street" is given to Guy.
    • Also, Mr. Bundles the laundry guy doesn't appear in this adaptation, though that's mainly due to the Setting Update.
  • The Alcoholic: Miss Hannigan is one, and it's largely Played for Laughs. She spends the majority of the movie in her cups. Pepper, the cynical oldest foster kid, makes fun of her for it.
  • Arc Words: Annie's words to Stacks become significant enough that he puts them into his speech.
    "Whenever someone says 'no', it's because they're scared of saying 'yes'".
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Ms. Hannigan asks Lou why he keeps treating her so well when she treats him so poorly. Lou's response is that under her angry, cynical exterior, she's still a Nice Girl. This causes her to take part in the Heroic B.S.O.D. song "Who Am I".
  • Auto-Tune: It's subtle, but most prominent in "The City is Yours".
  • Award-Bait Song: The film has at least two movie bonus songs that qualify for this trope.
    • "Opportunity", the song Annie sings to wow the crowd (and Stacks) at the Guggenheim event. Nominated for Golden Globe and shortlisted for the Oscar.
    • "Who Am I" is a lesser example, but it still counts.
  • Bad "Bad Acting":
    • The acting in MoonQuake Lake, the movie Stacks takes Annie to see.
    • Hannigan's "audition" for Annie's fake parents is full of couples doing this. She tells Guy that these are the callbacks, too.
  • Brick Joke:
    • One of Hannigan's rants early in the film was that she was once part of C + C Music Factory. The entire movie goes by, and near the finale, there's a lull, into which she shouts the band's iconic Catch-Phrase: "Everybody dance now!" only to get shut down and told it's not about her.
    • Annie tells Grace about how Pepper punched a boy whom she liked in the face and now plays with him in the park. Later on, Grace punches Guy in the face and Pepper, of her own accord, clarifies that "It's not because she likes you."
  • Call-Back:
    • When Annie seeks to get to know her "real parents" she asks them if they do things that were mentioned in the lyrics of "Maybe".
    • One of the girls complains about being woken up from a dream where she was ice skating. They get to do just that at the Moonquake premiere. They also get to do at least some approximation of all the things the other girls suggest would be more interesting to dream about.
    • Annie's speech at the end of the film includes the words "the sun will come out tomorrow".
  • The Cameo:
  • Catch-Phrase:
    • Stacks tries to modify his cell phone company's slogan "never drop a call" into a political slogan for his mayoral campaign: "never drop a citizen".
    • Hannigan, when flirting, tends to open with the same line:
      Man: Ms. Hannigan?
      Hannigan: That's my maiden name. But I'm not ... married to it.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Cell phones. Due to most phones being smart phones, they prove instrumental in helping save Annie in the film's climax.
    • Social Media: Bobby's having given Annie her own Twitter account results in her getting mentioned all over the site and trending when she realizes her "real parents" are nothing of the kind and starts trying to get help by waving at passerby.
  • Cool House: Will's penthouse, which also doubles as Smart House.
  • Credits Gag: After "It's the Hard Knock Life" finishes, the theme song from Moonquake Lake plays. The title of one of the songs listed in the soundtrack takes a jab at people who read the credits.
  • Damsel in Distress: Annie is kidnapped by her fake parents and sent on a car chase with them during the climax.
  • Decomposite Character: The closest thing we get to Rooster Hannigan is both Guy and Annie's unnamed fake father. Guy is the one who plots to send Annie away with phony parents for his own gain, and "Easy Street" is now sung by him and Hannigan. The latter is the one who poses as Annie's father (alongside her "mother"), and nearly succeeds in kidnapping her, as Rooster and Lily did.
  • Defrosting Ice King: Stacks throws himself into work and into getting ever wealthier until he realizes Annie brings a different sort of richness to his life.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Hannigan, both for the girls and her Dogged Nice Guy from the convenience store.
  • Disappeared Dad: Stacks, in return for Annie sharing a secret with him, shares his own: his father worked himself to death as a subway worker when Stacks was only twelve.
  • Disco Dan: Miss Hannigan, subtly. Her hair and clothing style is more suited for a young woman in the 90s-early 2000s, another way she's living in the past.
  • Diving Save: The scene that sets up the plot is Will saving Annie from the onrushing truck by pulling her off the street.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Lou, the bodega owner. He has the dig on for Ms. Hannigan, and is persistent about it. He eventually wins her over.
  • Do I Really Sound Like That?: When Annie sees video footage of herself for the first time, her reaction is "Whoa, my hair's gigantic!"
  • Doorstop Baby: Played with. Annie was actually 4 years old when she was left at an Italian restaurant with her locket and a note written on the receipt by her real parents.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Miss Hannigan may abuse and yell at children, but she draws the line at kidnapping.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Sandy reacts to Annie's hired "real parents" with aggression and fear.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Annie is a clever girl who can hustle with a twinkle in her eye. She manages to give her report on the New Deal by turning it into an audience-participation spoken word performance piece that involves the whole class. She convinces the woman in Social Services to describe the information on her background request. It is only later when she's stuck in a situation she can't hustle her way out of that Annie reveals the prior two events were because she can't read, despite being ten and in school.
    • The little dog who eventually gets named Sandy has a nervous behavior she exhibits early in the film. Once when we see Annie trying to rescue her from bullies. Once in the pound. And last when Annie's "real parents" show up to pick her up from Stacks.
  • Fostering for Profit: Miss Hannigan, at least at the beginning of the movie. When Annie suggests to Mr. Stacks that he could take her in as part of his publicity stunt, she mentions the stipend as further incentive, which he takes as an attempt at a Comically Small Bribe.
  • Gender Flip: Sandy the dog (a male in the previous adaptations) is a female in this updated adaptation.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Hannigan, after Guy betrays her by hiring the fake parents himself and cutting her out of the deal. She ends up feeling really guilty over her part of the plan to have Annie's "real parents" come take her away, and enlists the girls to get her to Stacks so she can confess.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Annie when she is revealed to be unable to read. Also when she thinks Stacks hired the fake parents to make himself look good.
  • Hero of Another Story: Harold Grey, Stacks' rival in the election that drives his actions in the plot, is implied to be a philanthropist and all-around Nice Guy and undoubtedly has his own political campaign going on. Since Stacks dropped out of the election, it can even be assumed that he ultimately won it.
  • Hope Spot: Annie is supposedly reunited with her real parents, only to find out they're dupes. By the time she figures this out, she's locked in their car.
  • Imagine Spot:
    • Annie during "Tomorrow" imagines a lot of people as playing with happy children; the shot returns to show that most are carrying/working with something else.
    • Given a dark turn when a drunken Hannigan sings "Little Girls" and imagines the girls as parts of her furniture and all around her, mocking her.
  • "I Want" Song: "Maybe" is for all the foster girls.
  • Jaded Washout: To hear her tell it, Ms. Hannigan. She was apparently part of C+C Music Factory and almost part of Hootie & the Blowfish but they kicked her out before she could become a star.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Foster kid Pepper. She is quite obviously dealing with attachment issues, and doesn't want to get close to anyone, so she distances people by being a hardcase.
    • Colleen Hannigan turns out to be one, starting a change of heart after Stacks tells her that Annie genuinely speaks well of her singing (as opposed to complimenting it to butter Hannigan up to prevent her from punishing Annie for not coming home on time).
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Guy. Unlike Grace, he never tries to get to know Annie for who she is. He only sees her as points on the polls for Stacks, to the point of treating her almost like she's not even human at all.
    Guy: You don't pay me enough to worry about her.
  • Lampshade Hanging: When Guy goes to see Hannigan, she has a bunch of couples lined up down the street to audition for the roles of Annie's "real mom and dad". As Guy walks past them he spots a couple who are white.
    Guy: That's an ... interesting choice.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • The film's very first scene is built around saying "Our Annie is not the Annie you know and expect", which alludes to the reaction to the title character's Race Lift.
    • A quick gag after "I Don't Need Anything But You" has New Yorkers watching the Stacks and Annie story unfold on the news. A man comments, "If he keeps up singing and dancing like that, there's no way he'd've won anyway."
    • Ms. Hannigan has a tendency to do this around musical numbers.
  • Lethal Chef: Played with. Annie is astonished that literally everything in Stacks' fridge is take out. She tries to ingratiate herself with him by telling him "I can make a meal out of any five ingredients you pick!" It looks at first like Annie is going to show off her "poor person ingenuity", but it comes out so disgusting that they both Spit Take on tasting it, but it works to get them talking. They get so into their conversation that they forget how gross the meal is and take another bite, only to Spit Take it again. Annie doesn't give up on trying to cook, though. She brings Stacks breakfast, but it's burnt toast and other stuff that is not as readily identifiable. This time, though, he gets off the hook by feeding it all to a willing Sandy.
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: This happens during the finale when Miss Hannigan gets a little too excited with the song.
  • Logo Joke: As the Overbrook Entertainment logo appears, the record player starts playing Hard-Knock Life.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Based on her conversations with Annie, Grace grew up in the lap of luxury with few to no friends.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "It's the Hard Knock Life" is a song about how much life sucks for foster kids - with a cheerful, buoyant tune.
  • Men Don't Cry/Sand In My Eyes/Manly Tears: Following the Rule of Three:
    • Stacks gets teary-eyed but doesn't mention it.
    • When he shows Annie where he grew up in Queens, he plays it off as pollen or dust.
    • When he's about to lose Annie to her "real parents", she asks him if it's dusty and he says it's not. He then admits on TV that he's actually crying.
  • Movie Bonus Song: The film adds a few more new songs, such as "Opportunity" and "Who Am I", while removing others partly due to the Setting Update to the present day and partly due to Values Dissonance.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Hannigan upon hearing from Stacks that Annie was never being sarcastic about her singing, Annie really did like it and it did comfort her. Even more so upon finding out that Guy has no idea who the people he handed Annie off to are and that they'll keep her until after the election and then dump her back into the system.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • One TV spot shows Guy, Stack's political adviser, call Annie by the original strip's title to the press.
      Guy: There she is, our little orphan Annie!
      Annie: Foster kid.
    • Stacks first meets Annie across the street from a place called Punjab Harlem Cleaning Supply, named for the bodyguard character in the original comics.
    • Stacks' opponent in the mayoral race is named Harold Gray, after the comic strip's creator.
    • The opening scene at school begins with a red-haired Caucasian girl named Annie giving a presentation. We then immediately meet our protagonist, who is also named Annie.
    • The band playing in the bar where Guy hatches his plan with Hannigan is called the Leapin' Lizards, which was the newspaper comic strip Annie's Catch-Phrase.
    • Stacks and Grace start yelling until one of the other foster children reminds them that Annie can't hear them. This is a throwback to the original movie where Warbucks and Grace yell for Annie during the car chase.
    • Stacks is randomly discovered by Annie to actually be bald partway through the film, wearing a very realistic wig. It's only ever alluded to once shortly afterwards. Warbucks, who Stacks is based on, was the world's richest bald man.
    • The music that plays during Harold Gray's TV advertisement is an instrumental of "N.Y.C."
    • Annie's report at school is about the New Deal policies. The musical and the 1982 film had Franklin D. Roosevelt as a supporting character and he alluded to his future policies for the economy.
    • When Annie asks Grace about the millions of servants and the chef, it's a reference to Mister Warbuck's servants (and chef).
  • Never Learned to Read: Annie's dark secret, revealed when feckless Guy puts a speech on the teleprompter for her to read, assuming she can because of her age.
  • Parental Abandonment: How Annie ended up a foster kid. And the other foster kids as well.
  • Parental Bonus: The film has a clever way of referring to someone as a prostitute, which flies right over the heads of any kids in the audience.
    Miss Hannigan: [approaching limo] Hi there!
    Stacks: I'm sorry, I am not interested in temporary companionship.
    Miss Hannigan: What!?
    Stacks: God has a path for all of us! Yours should be taking you away from the car.
    • The 2014 version of "It's a Hard Knock Life" has a beat that sounds quite similar to Jay-Z's 1998 rap hit (which in turn sampled the 1982 version of the musical number).
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Miss Hannigan, as an example of life's chronic unfairness, cites the fact that she's not married to George Clooney, which gets a "Who's George Clooney?" from the foster girls.
  • Product Placement:
    • Citi Bike bike sharing service, used as part of Annie's hustle, in violation of their rules. You're supposed to put the bike back at a Citi Bike rack yourself and not let anyone else use it. But since Annie's the protagonist, you know she's a good girl and returns the borrowed bike like she's supposed to.
    • Ferrero Rocher candies.
    • Purell hand sanitizer: used liberally by Will.
    • Toblerone candies.
    • Twitter and Instagram are a significant part of the film's climax.
    • Windows 8 is featured prominently in Will's smart house.
    • In an in-universe example, Stacks' phones are featured in the movie he takes Annie to, MoonQuake Lake. Grace points out that product placement is helping keep Hollywood afloat.
  • Punny Name: Updated from the original "Warbucks", we now have "Stacks" (as in "of cash").
  • Race Lift: The film has African American actress Quvenzhané Wallis playing the title role, likewise Jamie Foxx plays Will Stacks the film's analogue to Daddy Warbucks.
  • Reality Ensues: Several times throughout the movie.
    • Pepper, the oldest foster kid, hides her feelings behind affected cynicism. But her real feelings come out early on, when she points out that she's almost thirteen, and almost nobody wants to adopt a teenager.
    • Unlike other versions, this one depicts the bureaucracy around adoption. Just getting Annie to move in with Stacks temporarily involves lots of paperwork, and an eye is kept on Ms. Hannigan by social service workers. (Hannigan is still terrible, but the girls cover for her in front of the city inspectors because they'd rather not have to move to yet another home.)
    • As mentioned elsewhere, the educational system has failed Annie. The movie starts with her in school giving an essay. But she can't read and can only write a little besides her own name.
    • A political analyst whose paycheck depends on his client winning might just do anything to make that happen.
    • Trying to kidnap a famous girl in New York City in a car in the age of smartphones and helicopters does not go very well at all.
  • Rule of Three:
    • Annie: Her report at school. Her conversation with the social services clerk, and her failed speech at the Guggenheim.
    • Sandy: Sandy barks, growls and runs in circles when upset or afraid. She does it when the bullies corner her. She does it in the pound. And she does it again when Annie's "real parents" come for her.
  • Running Gag: The social services woman is a kleptomaniac and is seen constantly slipping things into her purse.
  • Saying Too Much: Grace absolutely has friends and under no circumstances is in love with Mr. Stacks.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: A few large dollar bills to the social services woman is all it takes to speed along the process for the paperwork for Annie's temporary adoption by Stacks to go through.
  • Serendipitous Symphony: The sounds of New York City form the backdrop to the opening credits of Annie, to the point a jackhammer serves as percussion.
  • Setting Update: Set in The Present Day (2014) rather than the 1930s, averting the Politically Correct History of the 1999 version. This produces several other changes, such as Miss Hannigan running a foster home instead of an orphanage.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Stacks Mobile collects and monitors data on their users. This later does come in handy, being used to try and track down Annie's parents and to locate her whereabouts when she is kidnapped by the fake parents at the end of the film.
  • Slobs Vs Snobs: Played with multiple times over the course of the film.
    • Stacks starts out the movie a germaphobe, disgusted with the people he's trying to make nice with because he's running for mayor. He is so germaphobic he doesn't just use hand sanitizer, he squirts it into his mouth. He also has no game face of any sort, so when he tries the mashed potatoes he's feeding the homeless, he ends up spewing them in disgust all over the people lined up. They look at him in disgust for doing it.
    • Lou, the bodega owner, allows Annie to "work" for him in exchange for favors and merchandise. But the work he has her doing involves wiping out the real expiration dates on milk and juice and putting in fake ones that are further out. Lou also puts to rest the "poor people are dumb" idea many wealthy people have. He may not have book smarts, but not much gets past him.
    • Hannigan spends the majority of the movie protesting that she deserves better than her present lot, and treats her foster girls like maids.
    • The woman who works in social services is disgusted by Annie, and won't even touch her hair tie full of money to pay for her background check.
    • At the Guggenheim museum event, it's a formal black tie event. In the center of it is Annie, wearing an amazing red dress, and eating/playing with her food in the way you might expect a ten year old child to do when bored at such a to-do.
    • The foster parent inspector seems nonplussed by Hannigan's flirtation. Guy, on the other hand, seems offended at having to come into Harlem at all to talk to her, and is so disgusted by Hannigan that he literally blocks her from trying to kiss him when they make their deal.
  • Stealth Pun: Daddy Warbucks' Adaptation Name Change is William Stacks, which means that he's informally known as Bill Stacks.
  • The Stinger: Stacks, Grace, and Annie watching the next MoonQuake Lake movie.
  • Stylistic Suck: MoonQuake Lake has a ridiculous premise, clichéd dialogue and overacting.
  • Take That!: The movie premiere that Stacks takes Annie and friends to is MoonQuake Lake, an obvious shot at the Twilight movies. In a twist, though, people (or at least the girls, Stacks, and Grace) seem to generally like it.
  • Totally Radical: Guy sets up a Twitter account for Annie, @annie4realz. "Get it? Because she's 'for realz'?"
  • Villain Song:
    • "Easy Street", as in the musical, but it is now a duet between Guy and Hannigan.
    • Miss Hannigan's "Little Girls" may also qualify, although she does eventually get a Heel–Face Turn, and the song itself had been rewritten to make Hannigan seem more sympathetic.
  • Wealth's in a Name: Despite Adaptation Name Change, wealthy businessman Stacks manages to fall into this again — his name is now William Stacks (ie. Bill Stacks.
  • Wham Line:
    Annie: I can't read!
  • Younger and Hipper: Hannigan is played by Cameron Diaz.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • A Lighter and Softer take on the trope. Guy shrugs off telling Hannigan that after the election, the "real parents" will just "dump her back in the system", but he isn't even certain that's true. Nobody actually says they're going to kill Annie, but once she leaves with her "real parents" and the truth comes out, it is treated as though she is in grave danger.
    • Also Guy does this to Hannigan by hiring the fake parents himself, and cutting Hannigan out of the deal, leading to her Heel–Face Turn.

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