Trailer Tuesday: Annie

Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies, since I’ve always found them to be fascinating.

It’s funny how you might have an initial reaction to a trailer the first time you see it, but after several viewings you start to change your mind.  Sometimes a trailer will knock your socks off, but you see it so often that you start to become bored with it.  Or, as is the case with the remake of Annie coming this Christmas, I was underwhelmed by the trailer the first time I watched it, only to be won over a bit more with each viewing.  I’m still not 100% sold on it, and I still have some concerns, but it’s growing on me.  Take a look below and read on for my thoughts:

This remake of Annie has been gestating for a while.  It was originally imagined as a vehicle for Will Smith and his daughter Willow, although they eventually backed out.  Other names that were rumored to be attached to the project were Justin Timberlake and Sandra Bullock.  However, none of the adult roles really matter if they don’t get Annie right, and I’m totally on board with Quvenzhane Wallis.  She was so fierce, rebellious and strong in Beasts of the Southern Wild, and I think she’ll bring the perfect fire to Annie.  I love the way she tells Jamie Foxx that she’s running because “It gets me places quicker,” in a way that’s just the right balance of charm and smartass.  I’m not especially worried about her singing, as they can do wonders these days with autotune and other technologies, and I’m pretty confident that they’ll make her voice sound great.

On my first viewing of the trailer I was less enthusiastic about Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan and Jamie Foxx as this movie’s version of Daddy Warbucks.  I think Diaz brings the right amount of sass to the role, however, and Foxx can be charming and sweet when need be (and can also sing), but my concern is more with the writing of the film.  They’ve obviously made a lot of changes to the story as we’re used to, and while that can sometimes be a good thing, I don’t want them losing the heart of the story.  It looks like the character of Rooster has been written out completely, and the Warbucks character has been changed a lot.  Foxx’s character is now called Will Stacks, is a politician/billionaire running for mayor of New York, who initially takes in Annie as a publicity stunt but obviously comes to love her over the course of the movie.  I assume all of this was done to make the Warbucks/Stacks role more meaty, and give the character more of an arc, but I worry that this will take the focus off of Annie too much.  And then there’s the downside of doing a modern retelling of the story, in that they feel the need to throw in lines like “Like me on Facebook!” “I don’t like you in Harlem, why would I like you on Facebook?”  Ugh.  I hope that’s the only one of those in the movie, but I somehow doubt it.  Considering that Emma Thompson worked on the script, I can only assume that that line was thrown in during rewrites, as she’s a much better writer than that.

I’m thrilled that the film is going full-on musical, and is using the original songs from the stage version.  It’s great to hear “Hard Knock Life” and “Tomorrow,” and from the clips we get it’s clear there will be a lot of singing and dancing through the streets of New York, which is as it should be.  Other than the songs in the trailer we don’t know what else will make the cut into the film, but I would bet on “N.Y.C.” and “Little Girls” at least, as those would feature the film’s adult stars.  However, what makes me wary is Jay-Z’s role as producer of the film.  Supposedly he will be writing new music for the film, and while I can pray that this only means a song for the credits and incidental music, but I somehow doubt it.  I can totally imagine him inserting a rap section for Jamie Foxx in the middle of “N.Y.C.” for instance.  I hope I’m wrong, but I can’t shake the feeling that they’ll try to “improve” songs that don’t need improving.  The music of Annie is pretty timeless, and not in need of improvement.

It’s a long way til Christmas (technically December 19), so subsequent trailers could do a lot to either improve the film’s outlook in my eyes or to ruin it.  But for the moment I would say I’m modestly excited.  We don’t get a lot of movie musicals these days, and I feel like I have to latch onto any that come along just to get my fix.  And in the end, if they change Annie too much for my liking, I can always just see it again on stage.

What do you think?  Are you a fan of Annie?  What do you think of this version?  What do you think about the changes they’re making?  What do you think of the cast, particularly Wallis?  Why did they change the name from Warbucks to Stacks?  Are you worried that Jay-Z is involved?  Are you a robot who hates musicals?  Let me know in the comments!

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