Grumpy about the holidays – day 21 (holiday matinee)

Jesse has been champing at the bit for the new Annie movie to come out. So we went to an afternoon show today. In the magic of the 21st century, I ordered tickets and selected seats via the theater’s iPhone app. That is crazy.

We made it to the theater on time with cheerful children (Christmas miracles abound in my life), so I bought snacks for the kids. We got a soda for dad (yes, he counts as a kid in this setting), sno-caps, skittles, a bottle of water, and popcorn. I took out a small loan to pay for the unholy cost of these items, putting up my car as collateral.

Aren’t there any original ideas in the movie industry? The snacks are exactly the same as what was available when I was a kid. Even the movies are the same. The previews were for a new live-action Cinderella, yet another Peter Pan movie (creatively entitled “Pan”), Minions (from Despicable Me), and a Mall Cop sequel. All do-overs and lifts. The only new thing was Home, about a trouble-making space alien who’s terribly unpopular on his own planet, befriended by a little girl on earth… Wait, nope. That’s Lilo and Stitch. It’s been done.

It’s disappointing that Hollywood has been reduced to this, but the previews set me up good for Annie. I haven’t read a single review of the movie, so I have no idea how it’s being received. But I went with a 5- and a 9-year-old as a winter-break Christmasy treat, so let me give you my holiday mommy review.

It didn’t suck. Actually, it exceeded “didn’t suck” by a long mile. The actress playing Annie is sassy and talented. The story modernization, song makeovers, new music, and updated dancing are fun and workable. There are obvious and sneaky references back to the first movie. There’s some tear-jerking action. Jamie Foxx is actually kind of hot, unlike Albert Finney’s strange and creepy Daddy Warbucks from the first movie.

And then there’s Cameron Diaz, who delivers an amazing, over-the-top send-up of a drunken washed-up woman trapped in the late ’80s. She stole the show for me.

I could go into detail but I won’t. Bottom line is this. You got kids who like song and dance? You’ll enjoy Annie. And it’ll give you a chance to talk about foster care and the plight of parentless children, poverty and wealth, generosity and selfishness. All good topics for the holiday season, when many of us are busy giving and receiving expensive gifts and enjoying a lot of familial love — commodities not everyone is blessed with.

Did I just get on a soap box there for a second? I think I did. Ugh. Well then. Never mind.

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