Last weekend my 11 year-old daughter and I headed to NYC to catch a preview of Annie the Movie. She had extremely high hopes about the movie and I was excited to see this seemingly very modern update of a story I have loved all of my life. From the original version starring Andrea McArdle to the 1982 film directed by John Huston to the Broadway show my daughter and I saw last year, the story and songs from Annie have been a staple in my life for just about ever.
But after seeing this new film, it’s hard to give you a fair opinion on whether it’s a wonderful update of a great story or not. I will tell you that my daughter loved it. She had a smile on her face throughout the film and immediately purchased the soundtrack on iTunes when we got home. She liked the revamped story, the new songs, the car chases and the use of technology and social media throughout the film.
Me? I think I expected a more faithful version that I got lost in the plot about half way through. Will Gluck’s version starring the Oscar-nominated Quvenzhané Wallis places Annie in NYC, not an orphanage. When she meets billionaire businessman Will Stacks, played by Jamie Foxx, who decides having Annie live with him would help his mayoral campaign, they team up and the story moves to his world – – away from his. There go the orphans – there goes Mrs. Hannigan, played hilariously by Cameron Diaz, there goes the focus on her being an orphan who wants to be reunited with her parents. That aspect does become important at the end of the film, but from the minute the plot twist is introduced, we know what’s going to happen. Rose Byrne, who I adore from Bridesmaids and You Can’t Take it With You which I recently saw on Broadway, plays Stacks’ right-hand man, and their chemistry is never quite believable, but I don’t blame her for trying. They should have almost paired her with real life love, Bobby Cannavale, but that would change the story considerable pairing a good gal with a bad guy, so oh well.
BUT despite my complaints, I do want to add that I love the idea of an African American Annie, particularly after the recent racist killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. It’s time to celebrate not mourn and this film helps us to do that. I loved Annie’s afro, which remained a mess on her head throughout the film (much like my own hair). I love that Jay Z paired with Will and Jada Pinkett Smith to produce this version to bring back an important story from my youth to make it once again important to kids like my daughter, who the film invigorated.
So, it has its good points and its bad points. You may be critical, but your child love it. And it will definitely make for a good conversation piece, so please stop by here after you see it and let me know what you think!
Disclosure: I attended a screening and was invited by Disney prior to the film’s release but all opinions are my own.