Wednesday, December 31, 2014

ANNIE 2014

Given that my accepted mindset on the topic of most contemporary films (remakes, reboots, and re-imaginings, in particular) is a resounding, “Bah, humbug!” I have to say, after seeing the new version of Annie starring Quvenzhané Wallis and Jamie Foxx, I feel a little like Albert Finney in the last reel of Scrooge (1970).

Certainly, what with all those negative reviews, poor boxoffice, and my own casual antipathy toward the source material itself  ‒ I love the musical score, but my very W.C. Fields-like aversion to hordes of singing children has always prevented Annie from being a huge favorite ‒ expectations couldn't have been lower. I would have been happy had this, the third screen incarnation of the 1977 Broadway musical, been made into a splashy, tolerably bad movie musical on par with Hairspray (2007) or Nine (2009); and if I’m really being honest with myself, I think I might have even secretly hoped for a so-bad-it’s-good hoot-fest, à la Lost Horizon (1973) or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978). But as it turns out, Annie: 2014 caught me completely off guard. It seems the one thing I wasn’t expecting was an utterly delightful, thoroughly enchanting musical whose thoughtful and canny updating reclaims the heart of a musical long lost to shrill children’s recitals and hollow theatrical revivals.
I’m light-years away from being the film’s preferred demographic, but as a dancer and longtime fan of movie musicals, I was wholly captivated by Annie’s old-fashioned charm and sentimentality. A sentimentality that touchingly reaffirms the musical’s simple message that everybody needs to feel loved, and family isn't only something you’re born into.
Quvenzhane Wallis as Annie Bennett
Jamie Foxx as William Stacks
Rose Byrne as Grace Farrell
Cameron Diaz as Colleen Hannigan
Bobby Cannavale as Guy
David Zayas as Lou
With two flawed Annie adaptations already committed to celluloid (the overstuffed 1982 film you can read about HERE, and the wan but more faithful-to-the-stage 1999 TV-movie), I was less than thrilled when, back in 2011, actor Will Smith announced plans to produce an Annie remake starring his daughter, Willow. Of course, now, three years later, we can all give thanks for the role growth spurts and sluggish pre-production played in averting that particular disaster, but still, who needed yet another screen incarnation of that irrepressible orphan unless in a significantly reinterpreted form?

Happily, Annie 2014 proves to be just that: a surprisingly funny, disarmingly sweet update of the Broadway musical which, through the clever repurposing of songs, characters, and situations draws amusingly apt parallels between contemporary times and the hard knock life of 1933. 

Quvenzhané Wallis’ Annie has the spirit, spunk, and boundless optimism of her comic strip namesake (not to mention the same headful of curly locks), and plot-wise, the film cleaves more to the 1982 John Huston film than the original Broadway production written by Thomas Meehan (with music composed by Charles Strouse and lyricist Martin Charnin). But in spite of the many changes, it’s still the story of a hopeful waif searching for her real parents, and how she comes to warm the capitalist heart of a lonely billionaire through pluck and a cheery outlook. Annie is no longer an orphan, but (more reasonably) a foster child in the resentful care of the embittered, frequently besotted Miss Hannigan (Diaz), a failed dance-pop singer who was unceremoniously dumped from the C + C Music Factory back in the 90s (“I was too good!”) and now has to live off the subsidy income of playing foster mom to five annoying “little girls.”
Daddy Warbucks is now William Stacks (Foxx), a New York mayoral candidate whose standoffish public image is in dire need of the kind of PR rebranding and instant photo-op warmth temporarily taking in a foster kid can provide. Stacks is looked after by Grace Farrell (Byrne), the super-efficient VP of his mobile phone empire, and Guy (Cannavale), his pitbull of a political adviser. Beyond the narrative tweaks necessary to usher what is essentially a 90-year-old character into the 21st Century, Annie follows along the same fairy-tale path as its Broadway-inspired predecessors, retaining just enough of the familiar to evoke nostalgia, yet delivering plenty of (welcome) surprises to make the entire enterprise feel like something entirely fresh and new.

Granted, Annie is not a perfect film and not without its problems. Cameron Diaz’s over-caffeinated approach to the character of Miss Hannigan takes some getting used to (maybe small children will find her funny), events occasionally feel rushed (I know I'm alone in this, but I could have stood a longer running time), and like many musicals that strive to be “of the moment” (Xanadu, anyone?), Annie is in grave danger of looking dated by the time I post this. But in all, I found Annie to be a an fun, enjoyably tuneful re-imagining of Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie (“Foster kid...” as the certain-her-parents-are-still-alive Annie has to keep reminding everyone) which, thanks in large part to the engaging performance of its adorable 10-year-old star, had me feeling (to quote Scrooge in Dickens' A Christmas Carol" merry as a schoolboy."

In this day of Disney animation and Muppets, live-action movie musicals are hard to come by. Rarer still is the screen adaptation of a beloved Broadway musical that avoids succumbing to the curse of having too keen a sense of its own legacy. Camelot, My Fair Lady, and Hello, Dolly!, and Mame were all perfectly fun, lighthearted Broadway shows which arrived on the big screen ponderously weighed-down by big-for-big-sake elephantitis and an overdetermined sense of  their own “greatness.”
As a fan of cinematic bloat, I adore Annie’s visual sweep and glossy sumptuousness (it’s like a shiny, jewel-box vision of New York), and I like a large-scale musical number as much as the next guy (OK, probably more). But if I had to choose between the two, I much prefer an adaptation that pokes fun of itself with wry, self-aware humor, and which doesn't allow its heart to be smothered by all the production razzle-dazzle.
It's to the latter point where I think Annie succeeds most admirably. This is the first Annie I've ever seen scaled down to a size appropriate to the perspective of its heroine. And whether motivated by budgetary constraints or the dancing limitations of its cast, Annie sidesteps big production numbers at every turn (“It’s a Hard Knock Life” is almost modest) and in doing so, proves that less is consistently more. 
With intimacy intensified by the New York locations, the actors all doing their own singing, and the “dancing” consisting more of spontaneous movement inspired by the nature of the characters themselves; this Annie is the first one that I ever found to be really funny, and definitely the only Annie that has ever moved me to waterworks.
I thought by now I'd had my fill of the song, Tomorrow, until I heard Quvenzhane Wallis sing it. The staging of the number is very moving and her performance is outstanding. What a sweet voice she has!

Impressive adaptation choices aside (I love the comically self-referential opening sequence that cleverly addresses the remake elephant in the room), Annie’s major asset is Academy Award-nominee Quvenzhané Wallis (and Golden Globe nominee for this) who is fast proving herself a child actress force to be reckoned with. There’s nothing comic book about the astonishing level of nuance she’s able to bring to a character usually summed up with a few glib adjectives built around the word, "spunky."
As realized by Wallis, Annie's belief that her parents will one day return for her is as movingly and realistically conveyed as her self-protective resilience is poignant. to bring this to a musical in which she also shines in the most engaging fashion in the comedy and musical sequences is something of a marvel. Having never Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild, the film that made her the youngest Best Actress nominee in history (she was nine), I can only say that I was fairly blown away by her display of talent here. Easily the best performance in the film, she’s an Annie for the ages.
Wallis' performance of the original song, "Opportunity" was a real goosebump moment for me. Wonderful to hear a child sing in a voice that actually sounds like that of a child, not a pint-sized Ethel Merman 
Cognizant perhaps of the indomitable juggernaut posed by the pairing of an absurdly charismatic child and a dog, Jamie Foxx wisely underplays as Stacks and comes off the all better for it (although one wonders what he thought when, rather prophetically, his big solo, "Something Was Missing" did just that in the release print). Rose Byrne is a standout and singularly appealing as Grace, the lonely-little-girl-as-grown-up spin given her character making for a nice subtextural trifecta (with Hannigan) about women/girls accepting themselves as individuals worthy of love by first learning to love themselves. Bobby Cannavale, so wonderful in last years's Blue Jasmine adds considerable comic verve to his role, David Zayas is solid as a local bodega owner harboring a love-has-20/20-eyesight crush on Hannigan, and Stephanie Kurtzuba as a wealth-struck social services worker is a scene-stealing highlight.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Oz, Pompeii) as Nash, Stacks' driver/bodyguard

I don't consider myself a big admirer of most of today's music (I think Miss Hannigan and I share similar musical tastes) but I was immediately taken with like the ingenious way the songs from Annie were reworked. I even like the new stuff (save for Moonquake Lake, which is a tad trying). I've read critics calling out the film for its Autotune sweetening of the vocals (a staple of every Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus song I've ever heard, and evident in 2010s Burlesque with little comment), but I'd rather have the "assisted" vocals of the real actors than the kind of rampant dubbing that occurred throughout the 60s.
And what is a musical without a favorite number? Annie has several standouts for me but my fave rave and the one number I can watch again and again is "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here." 
Grace & Annie make like Mick Jagger and David Bowie in the infectiously upbeat, 
"I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here"

As much as I absolutely fell in love with this film (flaws, bad reviews, and all) and think Annie batted it out of the ballpark in a way I never would have anticipated given my general distaste for remakes; I've become an even bigger fan of the film after the daughters of a friend of mine told me what it felt like to see a little girl who looked like them starring in her own bigscreen musical adventure.
Hearing how excited they were about Quvenzhané Wallis’ singing and dancing, how much they liked her hair, her mode of dress, and how it made them cry at the end....
It just got me to thinking about what a difference a film like this would have made to my sisters when we were growing up. I have four sisters and we went to the movies nearly every weekend when we were kids, yet in all the dozens of movies we saw, they never got the chance to see themselves represented onscreen. Certainly not front and center.
In researching this post, I came across a press junket video interview for Annie in which actor Bobby Cannavale had this to say on the topic: “It’s for a new generation of kids who wouldn't necessarily see themselves in those old productions, be it the movies or the play. I recently saw the play and I still didn't see anybody of color up there. So I think it’s an important thing for kids to be able to go to the movies and see themselves.”

I've always felt that dreams are what movies are for. And as Xanadu proved in my life, a movie doesn't have to be a critic's darling to inspire a person and speak to their spirit. So my hat is off to Annie for giving a lot of kids who aren't always afforded the chance, an opportunity to dream.
Black pearl, precious little girl
Let me put you up where you belong.
Black pearl, pretty little girl
You’ve been in the background much too long.

Black Pearl-1969 (Spector, Wine, Levine)

As in the 1982 film (not the show), Annie is taken to the movies. In this instance, an intentionally silly-looking Twilight parody titled MoonQuake Lake, whose fake trailer can be seen (complete with surprise cameos) HERE. Sadly, as with all good parodies, it actually looks very much like a film that would be greenlit by Hollywood today.

Clip of the "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here" number on YouTube.

I read that Annie director, Will Gluck, placed 30 tributes to past versions of Annie in this film. I haven't found a site which lists them all, but here's a start:
1. The spunky, red-haired "Annie A." who opens the film giving a class report on Herbert Hoover (the Depression era President who's the topic of a sarcastic song in the Broadway show). 2. "Annie B." follows with a oral report on FDR and his New Deal (President referenced in song in the Broadway show). 3. A mayoral candidate is given the name Harold Gray, the creator of Little Orphan Annie comic strip. 4. Will Stacks is bald. 5. A band called "The Leaping Lizards" plays in a nightclub (it's the famous catchphrase of the comic strip Annie). 6. Annie rescues Sandy from a  bunch of bullies. 7. The song "N.Y.C" from the Broadway show, is played in the background of a scene. 8. The names of the actors in the fake film, MoonQuake Lake (Andrea Alvin & Simon Goodspeed) reference Annie history (original Annie, Andrea McArdle, The Alvin Theater, now the Neil Simon Theater, and The Goodspeed Theater in Connecticut where Annie premiered in 1976). 8. The red jacket, white leggings, and Mary Jane-style shoes Annie wears in the finale is a contemporary update of the classic Little Orphan Annie outfit.

Copyright © Ken Anderson


  1. Hello Ken, I enjoyed reading your review if the new improved "Annie". It made me want to see it. It seems better than the 1982 version, which I never wanted watch again. I saw the trailer for the latest version and Quvenzhané Wallis is really charming and seems like a good actress. We'll hopefully be seeing much more of her in films to come. Sometimes all we need is a movie to make us smile.
    I hope 2015 will be a good year for you. Thanks for all the great reviews!

    1. Hi Wille
      Thank you, and I'm glad you enjoyed the review! I think it's my first time ever writing about a film I've only seen once. My personal taste in movies is sometimes so offbeat that I never feel i can say with much certainty that someone else will like a film I enjoy, but your dislike of the 1982 version at least puts you in the category of being potentially "receptive" to someone taking another crack at the musical.
      The one thing that's undeniable is that Wallis is some kind of an actress. I tend to LOATHE children in movies, but she completely captivated me. I think she's fantastic in the role.
      And you're so right, sometimes all a movie needs to do is make us smile, and on that score "Annie" came out a winner.
      Wille, I extend my heartfelt thanks for your being such a longtime reader of this blog. I hope 2015 is a great year for you as well!

  2. I guess I'm such a hard bitten cynic all I could think when I saw this trailer in the theater a few days ago was "Oh no, not again!" You're surprising review (from an unabashed child actor hater!) sees the movie for what it is and taught me a few things about my own prejudices. I can judge very quickly based on only two minutes of a movie trailer. I love the original so much. I had a blast playing Bert Healy, et al. in a non-Equity NY production ages ago when I was 25 so I of course will be biased in that regard. It's hard for me to want to like a re-envisioned version of ANNIE. I just may go see this now if only to witness the talents of the young girl in the lead. I have to admit Jamie Fox sure looked like he was having fun in his role in some of the scenes. I vaguely recall the story of Will Smith wanting to use this as a vehicle for his talentless daughter. So glad we were all spared another vanity project from the vast seas of Hollywood nepotism.

    1. Hi John
      If you're a hard bitten cynic, then so am I, for when I saw the first teaser for "Annie" I posted a brief article on another site about the tiresome trend of remakes. I said the film looked terrible!
      So much for snap judgments. ,
      That you got to play Bert Healy in NY production would most assuredly put you in the camp not overjoyed by the prospect of a remake. (How cool is that, by the way...your own song!)
      Your tolerance for this film's unevenness may have a lot to do with how much you're willing to forgive in the name of a film that is rather sweet-natured and devoid of the kind of wise-ass humor that's grown so common in kid's movies today.
      And no matter what you think of the finished film, we can all agree that being spared Will Smith's daughter in a film produced by her father is something we can all be thankful for. Good to hear from you, John!

  3. Okay Ken, you got me, I have to see the movie.

    There was one thing you said, which I think anyone who has ever seen a movie with her in it can agree, "Cameron Diaz’s over-caffeinated approach to the character of Miss Hannigan takes some getting used to." She's that way with every character so she is hard to take and my least favorite person to watch - ugh, so that will be a pain point. As for Jamie Foxx, other than in Collateral (he blew me away) and Law Abiding Citizen, I find him tough to take. I think he's one of those actors that has difficulty dropping his character after the film has wrapped, so he carries a lot of the same characteristics from the previous role into the new one.

    So I'm trying out the movie because of your review and the updated course it took :) Thank you.

    1. Hi Cathy
      That's great you want to give "Annie" a chance! But as I always say, remember, no matter how persuasive my words may be, keep in mind I'm the guy who lists "Xanadu" as one of his favorite films!
      My taste in films is largely subjective, emotional, and only tangentially concerned with some of the things that send the average moviegoer running for the exits.
      I like Cameron Diaz a lot as a person (she took my class), but as an actress I think she's a little ham-fisted with her comedy. I don't think she's ever been better than she was in "Vanilla Sky."
      Jamie Foxx is not a particular favorite, but I like him a lot in this, his narrow range fitting nicely with the uptight germaphobe they make Stacks out to be.
      I can't even remember when I enjoyed a new musical (Sweeney Todd, perhaps...and that's going back some), but this Annie did it for me.
      Thanks for reading my post, and I hope you enjoy the film! You'll likely have the theater to yourself.

  4. Hi Ken,
    I haven't seen this new version of Annie (and have dim recollections of John Huston's very dim movie of it from the early 80s), but I appreciate your thoughtful and enthusiastic take on it, especially considering some of the really bad reviews it got. Surely these reviewers didn't feel affronted about a remake of the Huston version, which I think no one liked? The criticism that I read focused on the musical numbers lacking pizazz - but isn't that more in line with what audiences expect from musicals today? The big-budget numbers from the 40s and 50s are unfortunately dead; young audiences today would probably not know what to make of them. Indeed, the whole movie-musical format has changed drastically; most musical films today are actually animated - the stylized convention of characters suddenly breaking into song and dance seems most accepted in the stylized format of the cartoon. As for Wallis's supposed dancing and singing inadequacies - I think the same could be said of Shirley Temple. If anyone bothers to go back and dispassionately watch the old Temple musicals, note that she sings with a small child's piping voice (she was no vocal phenomenon like Judy Garland) and the choreography is scaled down to her abilities (for contrast, watch an old musical starring the teenaged phenoms Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan, or anything with the very young Nicholas Brothers, who were true prodigies). And I'd rather hear an actor sing in his own voice than be dubbed by obvious fakery.

    Do you think the critical hostility could be generated (even if unconsciously) by the new Annie's revision, of taking a beloved white character and making her a black child in modern times? (I wonder what would be the reaction if Dreamgirls was remade and recast with white actors?) Again, I haven't seen this new Annie film myself, so I'm only going by what I've read, but I really liked your conclusion, that the new Annie reflects the experience of your own sisters and would have given them a role model. And it's a big world out there; surely there's room for many different takes on a theme. Happy New Year, by the way; am looking forward to reading more of your terrific posts in 2015!

    1. I honestly think the John Huston “Annie” is problematic to a great many people, but at 32 years, it seems to be a sentimental favorite that has passed into the realm of “movies I grew up on” for an entire generation. To a certain age group, there’s an emotional fondness for that film that transcends its actual quality as a film. The same can be said of the stage show.

      Since “Annie” has been given the overblown, full-scale dance numbers, bigger-is-better treatment twice before, this “Annie” works so well for me precisely because it leaves all that behind. I’ve always felt the grandiose treatment obliterated the sweet story behind ‘Annie”; the more intimate treatment afforded this version reclaimed that for me.
      Contemporary audiences may balk at the lack of enormous dance sequences, but I for one was grateful for a more scaled-down approach.

      And I do think that a great many of the reviews I read were subtexted by an affront felt that a black child would have the audacity to step into Annie’s Mary Janes.
      The appropriation of black culture has been going on for so long that it passes with barely a notice, but the flip side tends to ruffle feathers.

      And thanks for bringing up “Dreamgirls.” What’s provocative about your referencing “Dreamgirls” is that it is a show about a black girl group which was only able to find mainstream success by adopting a “white” sound. To do a remake of “Dreamgirls” with a white cast all you’d have to do is make the Miley Cyrus , Iggy Izalea, Justin Timberlake, Elvis Presley, Boswell Sisters (etc., etc...) story!

      Over the holiday I had the opportunity to catch a few Shirley Temple films on TV. I was reminded what a great debt the original Broadway production of “Annie” owes to some of these films (especially “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”).

      In the end, the subjective merits of this 2014 “Annie” aside, I hope that in 32 years, added to the crop of little red haired girls who say “Annie” made them feel special when they were growing up, there are hordes little black girls saying the same.

      Thank you for thought-provoking comments which allow me to add these length addendums to my already lengthy posts! Happy New Year to you, too!

  5. Wow, Ken, don'cha love it when you walk into a movie theater and have your expectation turned completely on its head?! All too rare, unfortunately.

    While I can't say I'm going to rush out and plunk down my $17 (NYC prices are the pits), I'm far more inclined now to check this out when it streams on one of my subscription services, and when I do it will be with a whole other mind set, thanks to your post. (Loved Wallis in Beasts Of The Southern Wild, but have always felt about Annie as you do, so it was a non-starter for me before I read your thoughts.)

    Wanted to say that you make a wonderful point (which has been completely absent from everything else I've read) about the empowerment of seeing one's self represented in art -- it's truly transformative.

    The death of Judy Garland in June, 1969 is often held up as one of the major inciting incidents of the Stonewall riots and the subsequent burgeoning of the gay rights movement. I've always found the connection a little spurious.

    In 1996 I was fortunate enough to be cast in the 25th anniversary Off-B'way revival of Mart Crowley's The Boys In The Band, and did some research on the period in which the play was set, as well as the history of the original production.

    The original production had opened about a year before Stonewall, and while gay themed plays in NYC were nothing new (John Glines had been slaving away Off-Off, and sometimes beneath, for years), TBITB was the first gay play that went mainstream, becoming a solid hit, and a must-see for straight theatergoers from the "bridge and tunnel" crowd. I believe this, far more than Garland's passing, was likely a major force behind Stonewall.

    Suddenly gay men saw themselves represented as they truly were (yes, negative stereotypes included), but more importantly, straight audiences saw them for the first time as people rather than caricatures. Larry Luckinbill, who was in the original, told me that he emerged from the theater one night after a performance to find middle aged man sobbing to his wife, "Those boys -- what's going to become of those boys?" That's a powerful, attitude-altering reaction.

    When I floated this idea to Mart Crowley, he said he had never considered it, but had to admit that it had some validity.

    So now I find myself hoping that a film in which I previously had less than no interest finds a wider audience, if only to give one little girl of color (and perhaps some of her less enlightened white friends and their parents) a fresh outlook.

    Wouldn't that be a lovely way to start the new year?!

  6. Hi Neely!
    Yes,I love it when a film takes me by surprise. And perhaps after 57 years and countless movie tropes I've grown familiar with, it takes a veritable lack of expectation for a film to surprise me.
    I enjoyed this film far more than I expected, perhaps more than anyone else will; but I do believe its potential to mean something to an entire generation of little girls of color can't be underestimated. The very excellent observation you make about "Boys in the Band" is very apt (I'd never made a connection between Stonewall and the kind of burgeoning gay liberation a mainstream success like Crowley's play signaled). The arts influence us all, breaking down the differences and showing our shared humanity, and representation always matters very much.
    A lovely sentiment you expressed for the new year. Culturally speaking, one more Annie out there doesn't mean very much, but I do like the idea that, if Annie is some kind of rite-of-passage in little girldom, there's now an Annie for a group of little girls ignored by the previous two screen incarnations.
    Thanks, Neely

  7. Happy New Year, Ken! Glad to hear you found this better than most of the reviewers I've read...I suspect it's the charm, talent and star power of its young leading lady. I was astonished by her transcendent performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild, she was a breath of fresh air and a ray of hope in an otherwise relentlessly downbeat film. Looks like Quvenzhane Wallis can carry a film and is now a full-fledged, A-List movie star...

    1. Happy New year, Chris!
      yes, "Annie" was released with the kind of reviews i hadn't seen since the days of "Mame", "Lost Horizon" and "Xanadu"...all films near and dear to my twisted heart.
      "Annie" does indeed win out principally on the star quality of Wallis, whom I never got to see in "Beasts of the Southern Wild" but who, in this film, shows an amazing range in one so young. Those who have seen her previous film say that it is a delightful surprise to see her displaying such a gift for comedy.
      I rarely ever write about contemporary films (I rarely SEE contemporary films) but this was such a happy surprise.
      Looking forward to another year of film posts from you Chris, happy 2015 and thanks for commenting and for your enthusiastic support!

  8. Hello again, Ken!

    As an Annie fan in today's internet age, you can imagine the vitriol 99% of the hardcore fans of the '82 version had for this film's upcoming release. (Consider me the on-the-fence one percenter at the time.) Much of that in my circle unsurprisingly centered on the casting of Miss Hannigan. If nothing else, I admire Diaz for just going for it, despite all the odds being against her.
    Overall, I can't hate this movie. The approach to materialism and consumerism was a tad confusing, given the occasional product placement, as well as the ubiquitous presence of social media (which to be honest made the ending a little too easy, but that's just me).
    You were right on the nose in describing the visual scope of the musical numbers. Huston's "Hard Knock Life" was huge, with dozens of girls disappearing after the number ended, while the '99 version seemed more like a filmed stage play. This version gets it just right. (And I LOVED how they updated "I Don't Need Anything But You", not to mention how it and the other songs were incorporated into the main score.)
    I surprisingly liked the updates made for the secondary characters. Grace actually seems to have a life (albeit not a whole lot of one) outside of working for Stacks, and Nash is a pretty good update on Punjab (who, with all his problematic characteristics, was surprisingly badass in the '82 version). Replacing the Asp altogether was just the icing on the cake.
    Quvenzhane Wallis is undoubtedly the glue that holds this movie together. More street-smart, less naive, and probably more believable for kids today. Probably my favorite touch with her in this movie was her continuing to sleep on the floor at Stacks' place even though she's been there for a while. It's surprisingly powerful.
    Another little thing is that the romantic subplot between Grace and Stacks seems to be "thrown in" a little late compared to the '82 version, as if the writers forgot all about it at first but then were all like "by the way, these two are supposed to get together". Ironically, Byrne is now dating Cannavale, putting that punch at the end in a whole new light.
    If there's anything with Miss Hannigan that's done a LOT better in this verson, it's her "turning good" and how it's actually advanced through song, as opposed to the '82 version, where it looked like it was LITERALLY thrown in at the last minute. Actually putting her in action to get Annie back here is more logical for the reason above.
    Of course, I always wonder, what Harold Gray would have been horrified at more: Warbucks ultimately supporting the New Deal, or a "bleeding-heart liberal" political candidate having his own name.

    That's for the others on here to debate, I guess. ^-^

    1. HI!
      Thanks for so many interesting thoughtful observations.
      While not a perfect film, I too find this Annie difficult not to like. I'm a traditionalist, musically speaking, so I would have loved more old-fashioned dance sequences, but that's just personal taste. I loved what they did in making an Annie that appeals to a different generation.(And yes, "I don't need anything but you" is fine example of reworking an old sold without losing the flavor of the original.

      It's funny about this film. When it was first announced, I actually wrote an article on another site saying what a bad idea it sounded like and how I was growing of Hollywood's remake mania.
      But, as you note, there was such an overwhelming surge of anti-ANNIE internet vitriol released (most of it gingerly stepping about how not to say the main problem was a black Annie) that I quickly shifted courses. Like the anti-female venom tossed at the "Ghostbusters" remake, the voices of the moronic tends to galvanize those who are tired of the same movie tropes revisited over with no recognition that the real world is a great deal more varied than Hollywood tends to recognize.
      I enjoyed reading your thoughts on what things worked for you and what things felt a little rushed (I have to agree with the rushed feeling of the ending with all that social media stuff. Very contemporary, but a killer of suspense).
      Also, I like that you give some respect to Diaz who stepped into a role very much locked into a particular kind of portrayal. Must have been daunting. was wonderful hearing from you again! than