Before I rant, I have to tell you something. I’m a big fan of movie musicals. I saw Mamma Mia three times in the cinema (that’s not something I’ve ever admitted out loud, let alone to the online masses). Les Misérables has me in tears every time I watch it. Rent is a mainstay of my DVD collection and Chicago, well, I think the six Oscars speak for themselves.
But having now watched two trailers of the forthcoming Annie remake, I have a creeping sense of trepidation I just can’t shake off. Is it just me, or does it look DREADFUL?
Where to begin? Daddy Warbucks has morphed into Jamie Foxx’s Will Stacks who is gunning for mayor of New York City and moves Annie into his swish, high-rise apartment to boost his street cred. Give me Albert Finney’s stuffy billionaire any day – at least he doesn’t make Batman jokes (you’ll see what I mean if you watch the trailer…)
The famous soundtrack’s got a revamp courtesy of Jay Z who is producing the film along with Will Smith. Not only is there a heavy beat underlying the musical’s much-loved tunes (gosh, I sound old) but they’ve even changed some of the lyrics. A Hard Knock Life’s “When you’re in an orphanage” has become “When you’re a foster kid”. Ok, I know it’s all part and parcel of using a contemporary setting but, when it comes to musicals I’m something of a purist and they’ve messed with lines I’ve been singing for years.
Then there’s Cameron Diaz’s version of Miss Hannigan on speed. Even the few scraps of footage from the trailer are exhausting to watch as she prances around on screen, complaining about not being wed to George Clooney and telling Stacks to “like me on Facebook”. The switches in setting, lyrics and style I can just about handle but already I want to watch Diaz and her dud lines on mute.
It’s not all bad… Quvenzhané Wallis takes the title role and it looks like she’s brought the familiar sparkle that saw her earn an Oscar nomination for Beasts of the Southern Wild, while Rose Byrne seems a neat fit as Stacks’ assistant-cum-girlfriend Grace.
But, for me, a purveyor of movie musicals, Annie 2.0 is not one I’ll be queueing up to see come Christmas. Not judging by this evidence.
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