I’m about to tell you all about ‘Annie’, the remake of the broadway musical and 1982 film, this modern-day retelling stars Quvenzhané Wallis and Jamie Foxx as the leads. I feel it necessary to point out the elephant in the room and just get it out of the way now. The 1982 version was fantastic and didn’t need to be remade, I don’t care if it was 32 years ago! There, I said it, and I feel so much better for it.
Okay, so it’s not quite the Annie you remember. This Annie doesn’t have red hair, it’s brown, but still big and curly. This Annie doesn’t live in an orphanage, but a foster home. And Daddy Warbucks isn’t simply a billionaire with a bad image, he’s a self-made, germaphobe, mobile phone magnate by the name of Will Stacks who’s running for mayor of New York and desperately needs a boost in the polls.
Writer/director Will Gluck (‘Friends With Benefits’, 'Easy A') is taking the reins on this one, and if anyone is familiar with his résumé, they’d know that he would have had to tone down his style of humour in the presence of children - and perhaps he toned it down a little too much. There’s no bite here, it’s all a little perfunctory and the musical numbers that we’ve all come to know and love barely leap off the screen, with Gluck choosing to simply film Annie walking down the street or shoot a forlorn Will Stacks in his office. ‘It’s A Hard Knock Life’ is the only real stand-out, with the foster kids actually making cleaning look like wicked good fun.
It’s not quite the Annie you remember.
The cast play a mixture of seriously hammed-up performances (Diaz and Cannavale) and straight (Wallis, Foxx and Byrne). The combination makes for a disjointed feel, as does the film's decision to reference each musical number as though it’s normal for everyday people to burst into song. The film includes some original songs, including one written by Sia. It’s a beautiful song that's receiving well-earned accolades during this awards season, but in the context of being sung by a 10-year-old orphan... it’s not quite right.
‘Annie’ 2.0 is a perfectly adequate film. It has its fun moments, there’s a dog and lots of singing, and any child would be happy to see it. But in place of the original - stage or screen - nothing can quite come close; it has that certain something that this modern world seems to lessen.