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New ‘Annie’ offers no improvement over the irritating original

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Two stars

Annie Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz. Directed by Will Gluck. Rated PG. Opens Friday.

The good news about remaking Annie is that it would be tough to do worse than John Huston’s grating, bloated 1982 film, and director Will Gluck at least makes his new Annie nine minutes shorter than Huston’s, cutting several musical numbers. Of course, he then adds several cloying new songs, along with crass product placement and dated pop-culture jokes, but the result is pretty much a wash. Annie was a chore to watch in 1982, and it’s not much better now.

Both movies were based on the 1977 Broadway musical about an adorable orphan girl who melts the heart of a high-powered industrialist, although this new version uses fewer than half of the songs from the original production. The songs that remain get updated lyrics and overstuffed, percussion-heavy modern production that doesn’t do them any favors. It also doesn’t help that none of the main performers is a particularly good singer; Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) is cute as Annie, but cuteness is pretty much all she has going for her, and the rest of the stars range from passable (Jamie Foxx as the Daddy Warbucks character, tech mogul Will Stacks) to awful (Cameron Diaz, overacting as Annie’s reprehensible foster mother). Starting with insipid material once again yields insipid results.

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