A classic family film is remade? James Gilmore investigates.
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Remaking a classic family movie is always a risky move – and the movie industry has experienced its fair share of remake-flops in its time, let’s take Nicholas Cage’s remake of The Wicker Man as an example. When news broke that Sony Pictures were going to make a new ‘urban’ version of Annie our heads sunk right into our hands…
But there was no need to.
The 1982 version of Annie was a box office smash hit and resonated with audiences internationally – but, would a remake identical to the original adaptation have a similar effect? No. The 1982 film sold so well because it was relevant – there were orphans, there were poorly run orphanages, adoption was rare. In 2014 the term ‘orphan’ is obsolete, the new ‘foster homes’ are run with the government to high standards and adoption is highly likely. Our new Foster Annie (instead of Orphan Annie) is with the times, and that makes for a fresh, exciting film.
2014’s Annie doesn’t try to be 1982’s Annie – in fact, it tries to stay far away from it and makes that clear from the outset. The opening scene shows a traditional-looking, ginger-haired girl named Annie showing a presentation to the rest of her class. To that, the teacher says “Good job Annie, now Annie B it’s your turn” and our new, darker skinned, frizzy brown haired Annie stands up.
There are many changes to this film which distances it from the original. For one, Agatha Hannigan is now known as Colleen Hannigan and is played by Cameron Diaz and Oliver Warbucks is now known as William Stacks and is played by Jamie Foxx. Also, Stacks is a politician whereas Warbucks was a businessman and the character of “Rooster” (the man who comes up with the plan to kidnap Annie) is replaced by Guy (Bobby Cannavale) who tries to get rid of Annie to better Stacks’ political campaign.
The new Annie almost feels like an entirely new film, rather than a remake, with only similar characters and a similar plot to the original.
However, through all of the sunshine there are some shortfalls. The “musical” side of this “musical” is not so pleasing. For every great re-cut (such as Sia’s “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile”) and new track (Quvenzhané Wallis’ performance of “Opportunity” is astounding) there are disasters such as the overly autotuned “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here” and Cameron Diaz’s shocking performance of “Little Girls”.
As well as that, I couldn’t help but think that this version of Annie is rather slow considering the fact that the ending is known. The whole “lets kidnap Annie” sequence seems to only take up the last 1/8th of the film, with a good 6/8th of the film taken up with how much Annie is loving Mr. Stack’s company.
Cameron Diaz seems to feel like the producers Easy Street to big bucks, but the whole film screams for her exit. Her performance is shoddy, unrealistic and irritating at best. Jane Lynch would have been a better pick.
Nevertheless, through all of those rainclouds and grey, Annie still manages to hit the right notes. Quvenzhané Wallis has a big future ahead of her if Annie is anything to go by.
The world has been yelling for a remake of Annie and, whilst this version has its fair share of faults, it’s still extremely charming and has some great tunes. I might even go and see it again Tomorrow…