Thursday, December 18, 2014
This Annie remake has been in the works for a while. We all knew Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith had gotten the rights to update the Charles Strouse musical for a new movie. At one point their daughter Willow was supposed to play the title role. Then we learned Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter was also producing, so I don't think there was any doubt that this version of Annie was being looked at as "The Black Annie", right? Like "The Wiz" or "The Preachers Wife".
So why did I read this article on i am ROGUE where director Will Gluck says:
Was the goal always to cast an actress to play Annie that was a different ethnicity than how the character has been depicted before, or did you try to find the best actress for the role and it just happened to be Quvenzhane Wallis?And
Yes. We just started auditioning people. We never wanted to do that. Then at the same time we started auditioning people, this little nine year-old girl got nominated for the Academy Award. We were shooting a movie that needed a 9-year-old girl. I met with her. I was not 100% sure. She was fantastic. Then I started doing acting, singing and dancing with her. I remember saying, oh my God. This girl is Annie! There is no question about it. I went over to the studio and said we have Annie. We have found our Annie. There really never was a question to me about race or anything. Subsequently people make a big deal about it, but I would also say that if I decided to cast some girl who had blonde hair, they would make the same accusations. It is all about the red hair thing! READ MORE by Jami Philbrick
Then we decided who we wanted to cast for Will Stacks. I went into the studio and we had a big discussion about what actor we wanted in this movie. Who is a big movie star? Who can sing? Who can dance? Who is about the right age? There are only about two actors that fit the criteria. We came out of that meeting with Jamie Foxx. I said, yes! I have always loved Jamie Foxx. He is such a talented guy. As I was walking away from the building, someone said to me, “Do you know that he is African American? So he and Annie would both be African American?” I said, no. I did not think about that. I know that sounds naïve, but when you are in the middle of this stuff, all you think about is the filmmaking... READ MORE by Jami PhilbrickHuh? This sounds so false to me. What I do believe is the powers that be over Will and Jay, said don't make it too "black" it is Annie after all. If the two main characters are African American, then you need to hire a white director, we don't want to loose the original "Annie" audience. Which is fine. I certainly am not looking for any ghetto Annie or "playa" Daddy Warbucks, but I wouldn't have minded just a bit more flava overall, and some hip hop edge to the music. They updated the arrangements of the original songs a little and added some likeable new tunes, but the soundtrack is left feeling kinda beige.
All that aside, Annie 2014 is really a very watchable movie, with great energy and polish, love the contemporary touches of Will Stacks (aka Daddy Warbucks) high tech penthouse apartment and the mayoral race played out through social media. Quvenzhane Wallis (Annie) not only proves her outstanding performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild was not just "beginners luck", but has now shown us she's a triple threat.
She and Foxx (Will Stacks) have a fantastic chemistry that makes you believe in them, not just in the story of Annie winning over her rich benefactor. There's some really cute scenes with Annie and Will, like when she tries to make him a dinner of left overs and when he reluctantly takes Annie and the other foster kids to see a red carpet movie premiere of a young adult sci-fi type flick (fun cameo with Mila Kunis) and winds up getting super into the movie.
I feel we could have found a better Miss Hannigan, Cameron Diaz is not horrible in the role and she's probably been friends with Foxx since Any Given Sunday, so he may have brought her aboard, but she's not very convincing as nasty and disappointed with life, there's just too much light in her to play dark even for a musical. Plus, she admits she's not much of a singer.
Ultimately, kids of all nationalities are going to enjoy Annie and everyone is going to leave singing "It's the Hard Knock Life" - T &T's LAMB Score : 3.5 outta 5 - Le Anne Lindsay, Editor
'Annie' Director Will Gluck Walks Us Through Each Musical Number
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Critics @LambThe not giving much holiday cheer to @AnnieMovie, but here's what's likable about it! http://t.co/B7EhTyAbxqCheck Out Tinsel & Tine's
— Tinsel & Tine (@tinseltine) December 20, 2014
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