Maddie Crichton ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Hollywood has a bad habit of remaking films over and over again without ever adding anything new to the table, but 2014’s Annie does just the opposite.
Set in New York City, Annie (Beasts of the Southern Wild’s Quvenzhane Wallis) is a foster child (the title “orphan” has been notably dropped) and lives in an apartment with the cruel Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz) and other foster kids. One day, while venturing out to find her real parents, Annie bumps into corporate tycoon and billionaire Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) who decides to use her as an object of charity to help him win his campaign to be mayor of New York.
The film contains all the charm of the original’s, while switching the particular genre of musical. The pure theatricality of the songs is gone, replacing that tone with pop and a touch of hip hop, but the quality of the songs stay the same. Each is still catchy, captivating, and emotionally charged, allowing the music to still be the glue of the film.
Most of the classic songs make their way back into the film, however the song “Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile” is not sung by the title character, and rather it is a cover by pop artist Sia that gets played in the back over a scene.
The way the story was adapted seemed almost seamless. The film incorporated technology and the digital era into the film as if it was supposed to have this element from the beginning. Stacks owns a successful cell phone company, making the theme of technology even more relevant in the story. The characters were also adjusted to fit modern times in a way that did not seemed too forced or campy.
Wallis, who is nominated for a Golden Globe for her work in the film, adds a spirit to Annie. Her character has the traditional traits of Annie, cunning, determined, and awe-struck, plus an additional sass is presented in this adaptation. Wallis is charismatic, relatable, and shows off an excellent voice for someone so young.
Fox’s Will Stacks is the new character based off of the original’s Daddy Warbucks. Stacks has more development, and is less of a mystery millionaire than Warbucks was. We see him at work, tied down to his job at all hours, and we see him transition into a family man as Annie opens his eyes to more in the world. Fox, while not entirely serious, is entertaining in the role, and the chemistry between he and Wallis is endearing.
An interesting addition to the film is a backstory to Miss Hannigan, and ultimately an opportunity for the audience to feel sympathy for the iconic antagonist. Diaz is slightly irritating and over-the-top in the role, but these flaws almost work in her favor, as Hannigan’s character is irritating and over-the-top at its core.
This film is an excellent example of how to modernize a classic. The story is more relevant to the young audiences watching than the older ones are, and its emphasis on a diverse cast is very topical today. Annie will bring smiles to the faces of children, and adults alike.
Overall Grade: B+