People always get nervous when a classic movie gets a post-millennial update. The latest? The beloved musical Annie. They can't imagine even the slightest tweak to the story of the curly-haired, red-headed orphan taken in by a once cold-hearted billionaire. So it wasn't a huge surprise that fans were thrown by the news that young Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis would take on the lead role. The issue? She's black. The original Annie wasn't. But I think once they take a look at the film's trailer, everyone will see all the changes to the film are for the better.
Quvenzhané is the perfect new Annie, not because of her race, but because of her attitude. She brings a combination of sweet and sassy that is necessary for a kid who has been dealt more than her fair share of hard knocks. Think about it. Being an orphan in this day and age can't be easy. They aren't sheltered from the harshness of life. They are wards of the system who, as they age, have less and less of a chance of getting adopted. Less of a chance of getting the happy ending they have always dreamed about. To some measure, that kind of awareness needs to be reflected in the film.
An actress like this has such a stark, in-your-face realness about her. She has the road-weary demeanor of a kid who hasn't been coddled, yet she still has a hopeful and exuberant nature. Another amazing, if not unusual, casting choice: Cameron Diaz as the hateful Ms. Hannigan. You'd think she was too pretty for the role formally played to haggard perfection by Carol Burnett, but we'll see.
And the plot is slightly different. Annie's savior comes in the form of aspiring politician Benjamin Stacks (Jamie Foxx), who temporarily takes her in to improve his image. I am sure it gets a little campy at times, but it's clearly still a cute and timeless story.
Take a look:
Do you plan to take your kids to see Annie?
Image via Sony Pictures