Film: Modern ‘Annie’ adaptation trailer doesn’t show promise

By Meryl Gottlieb | mg986611@ohiou.edu | @buzzlightmeryl
Annie | Directed by Will Gluck

If you need to know one fact about me, it’s that I love musicals. From film adaptations to high school productions to The Great White Way, I love it all. However, with the increasing list of musicals I am obsessed with, there has also been a growing list of musicals I find, well, not great. Carousel tops that list. Then there are musicals I will accept but just can’t seem to get into. Annie holds that No. 1 spot. I must admit I like the 1982 film version but that’s mostly because I’m in love with the outstanding cast. You tell me how something involving Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters and Carol Burnett isn’t supposed to be fantastic. And don’t forget about the 1999 made-for-TV version involving Kristen Chenoweth, Kathy Bates and Audra McDonald. But overall, I don’t care if the sun will come out tomorrow; Annie just doesn’t do it for me.

I was fairly apathetic when I heard there would be more modern adaptation of the 1977 musical involving changing names and ethnicities. In order to even try to make another film adaptation, they had to do something to make this 2014 adaptation stand out. Simply finding the little girl with red curls isn’t as adorable as it was 40 years ago and having another older white man with a glistening bald head is still weird. But this is supposed to appeal to our world today: Annie (Quvenzhane Wallis) lives in Harlem and Daddy Warbucks Benjamin Stacks (Jamie Foxx) is using her for political gain. Now if that doesn’t sound like the 21st century, then I don’t know what is.

For one, I’m a little insulted the writers feel mass audiences would be keen on this adaptation. Picking up a storyline and dropping it into another era doesn’t always work, and I have a feeling the newest Annie will be our prime example of this phenomenon. Adding in pop culture references, looking at today’s poverty and political atmospheres and changing up the typical casting choice could work in theory, but from what this trailer has shown me, it’s simply another poor adaptation by modern writers. I think changing up the race of the two main leads is an interesting choice but it only becomes a point of focus if you make it be one. The race of Warbucks and Annie really has nothing to do with the show, so in some respects, I don’t see this as a groundbreaking change. It was just the way of the times in the ’70s to have them be white. While it is supposed to be set in modern times, having Annie be from Harlem and be used for political purposes doesn’t seem very original and creative. When you talk about modernizing Annie, it seems like a fairly obvious and boring choice.

I also think I sense a touch of auto-tune in “Tomorrow,” so let’s hope they didn’t go down that route.

And I’d be remiss to go without mentioning the Cameron Diaz issue. Why casting directors thought she would make a perfect Miss Hannigan baffles me. I don’t come to expect much from a certain pool of actors, and honestly Diaz is included in that list. She’s too over-the-top for her own good, and I can’t help but wonder how much better the film, let alone the trailer, would be without Diaz screeching up a storm. I’ve never heard her sing, but I’m not looking forward to her rendition of “Little Girls.”

What do you think of the newest Annie adaptation? Do you think Sandy is the only good part about the musical? Let me know @buzzlightmeryl

 

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