Annie 2014: Why Hollywood Needs This Remake

December 19, 2014  |  

When I first heard that the 1982 Annie movie was being redone, I had mixed feelings. The classic movie I saw in the theaters back in the 80’s had been in regular rotation in my household since my own kids were old enough to sit in front of a TV. So, of course, as someone who prided myself on knowing all the lyrics to the original “Hard Knock Life” song before Jay-Z ever put a record out, I was skeptical that they could pull it off. But there was one thing that I thought was brilliant. Reinventing Annie into a 2014 African-American girl with a diverse group of orphans was a great way to introduce today’s youth to a timeless narrative.

With a cast that includes Oscar winner Jamie Foxx as Will Stacks (the Daddy Warbucks character), Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Walis (as Annie) and Cameron Diaz (as Ms. Hanigan), it’s hard to imagine that the Overbrook Entertainment film could not hold up. There were high hopes for the remake when Will Smith and Jay-Z teamed up to develop and produce it back in 2011, and just three years later the movie was in theaters.

But low and behold, the critics couldn’t wait to tear this one apart. Though I’m not surprised that some of the reviews on a film that cast a Black girl as Annie aren’t glowing, I’m a little suspect about their intentions. In the midst of the Sony hack scandal, where executives are being exposed for racism, you would think Sony, the Hollywood community (critics included) and everyone else for that matter, would only applaud that the efforts of this film.

Surprisingly, there has been a lot of criticism about the movie’s music, which was and still is the backbone of Annie. In the 2014 version, the film’s music was revamped to include a more upbeat, modern day sound. There are original songs penned by Sia, Will Gluck and Greg Kurstin. But I’m just relieved that there are new songs for moms to hear now besides Frozen’s “Let It Go.” Actually, Quvenzhane Wallis’ performance on one of the movie’s newer songs (“Opportunity”) is nominated for a Golden Globe. That should help rival the reports that Wallis’ “Tomorrow” falls short of the original. (Who picks apart a child’s performance…that’s like boo-ing a kid on “Star Search”). I don’t know, maybe it’s the mom in me.

For the record, things are rarely as good as the original. That’s precisely why classics are remade…because they are just that, classics. I’m not of the mindset that they shouldn’t be touched though. As I stated before, my kids were very familiar with red dress and buckle Annie, so when my seven-year-old saw the trailer at the movie theater, her initial reaction was one of excitement. “Mommy, I wanna see that. It’s a new Annie!” And this time, Annie looked a lot more like her. Ever since then, she’s been counting down the days until its release. So without a doubt, we’re going to theaters this weekend to support.

We already know what to expect by the end, and there’s no way it could deviate too far from that storyline. So what’s the big deal if Cameron Diaz can’t really hold a tune and isn’t as funny as Carol Burnett (who really is??). If we don’t get behind Annie 2014, it won’t be as easy to get the next one done, and right now, Hollywood needs a little diversity.

Annie opens December 19, 2014 in theaters nationwide.

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