The Annie musical – inspired by Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie comic strip (which debuted in 1924) – has been around since the latest 1970s; multiple film and TV adaptations have sprung up over the decades since then, including John Huston’s 1982 movie (starring the likes of Albert Finney, Carol Burnett and Tim Curry) and Disney’s 1999 made-for-TV feature of the same name (featuring Kathy Bates, Victor Garber and Alan Cumming).
Annie (2014) is a full-blown modernization of the original musical, complete with new (read: contemporized) renditions of famous tunes like “Tomorrow” and “Hard-Knock Life” (supervised by Jay-Z), in addition to a post-millennial setting and tweaked backdrop. The eponymous character will be played by Oscar-nominee Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) in this version, having replaced the original candidate in Willow Smith – something that most of us can probably agree is for the best.
Here is the synopsis for the 21st-century Annie cinematic redux:
Academy Award® nominee Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) stars as Annie, a young, happy foster kid who’s also tough enough to make her way on the streets of New York in 2014. Originally left by her parents as a baby with the promise that they’d be back for her someday, it’s been a hard knock life ever since with her mean foster mom Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz). But everything’s about to change when the hard-nosed tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) – advised by his brilliant VP, Grace (Rose Byrne) and his shrewd and scheming campaign advisor, Guy (Bobby Cannavale) – makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in. Stacks believes he’s her guardian angel, but Annie’s self-assured nature and bright, sun-will-come-out-tomorrow outlook on life just might mean it’s the other way around.
No surprise, it looks and sounds as though the new Annie - based on a script that was co-penned by director Will Gluck (Easy A) and screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (We Bought a Zoo) – makes all the moves you would expect, in order to update the original story about a plucky orphan in Depression-era America for a tale about a young New Yorker living in a post-2007 Recession world. For more on that, you can watch the first trailer above, then check out the teaser poster, below:
Judging by the first trailer, the music, characters and world in general has been refurbished, to look shinier than ever – but still kid-friendly and slightly cartoony. Good thing too, since Annie is meant to appeal mostly to a younger generation unfamiliar with previous iterations of the musical, though there’re also a fair number of longtime musical fans out there who’re more than game for a re-imagining of Annie.
On that note: yes, some people have complained – and surely will continue to complain – about the race-changing of certain characters in this cinematic redo, despite the fact that a non-white (and non-red-haired) Annie isn’t new ground for the original Broadway stage musical. There’s nothing new to add to that debate right now (for a related discussion, see our superhero movie casting feature), beyond mentioning that there’s no denying the fine work previously done by the lead acting talent (Oscar-nominee Wallis and Oscar-winner Foxx) – and here, the pair look to be in fine form as ever, with decent chemistry to boot.
On the other hand, the people collaborating behind the scenes on the Annie are a bit of wild card. McKenna’s no stranger to churning out crowd-pleasing fare, though many would agree that her fluffy crowd-pleasing scripts can be all over the place in terms of quality (see: The Devil Wears Prada, 27 Dresses, Morning Glory); that we’re already getting Facebook references and other “trendy” jokes in the trailer alone doesn’t bode so well – at least, not for Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan.
Similarly, Gluck has a couple of well-received box office successes under his belt, though he’s also begun to earn something of a reputation for making films that openly thumb their noses at conventions – before ultimately kowtowing to them, anyway (see: Friends with Benefits). For those reasons, we’ll just have to wait and see if this new version of Annie really is as witty, hip, and fresh as it’s being positioned.
… If not, well, there are far worse ways to spend a couple hours than watching cute-as-a-button Wallis sing and dance.
Annie opens in U.S. theaters on December 19th, 2014.
Source: Yahoo! Movies