A made-for-TV movie version was broadcast on ABC on November 7, 1999, starring Kathy Bates as Miss Hannigan, Victor Garber as Daddy Warbucks, Alan Cumming as Rooster, Audra McDonald as Grace, Kristin Chenoweth as Lily, and newcomer Alicia Morton as Annie. Produced by The Walt Disney Company in association with Columbia TriStar Television, it received generally positive reviews and high ratings. It also earned two Emmy Awards and a 1999 George Foster Peabody Award. Although truer to the original stage musical than the 1982 version (as well as having a more comedic tone than the 1982 version's slightly dark one), it condensed much of the full story in order to make it more watchable for children. The film also featured a special appearance by Andrea McArdle, star of the original Broadway production.
John Waters was interviewed about the movie and asked how he cast Kathleen Turner as Beverly. Waters said that other prominent actresses expressed interest in the part but angered him by either asking if he could rewrite the script to make Beverly less malevolent or saying they couldn't sign up for the role without doing a cast reading first. Turner made neither of these demands and said she'd love to play the role, and Waters immediately cast her.
Full disclosure, I was completely ready to despise everything about the remake of ANNIE starring Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhané Wallis. In fact, I had already written the lede in my head, and let me tell you, it was scathing. But, then I saw the movie, and was pleasantly surprised by how not completely horrible it was. Yes, it will probably still rank as one of the worst big screen musical adaptations of the past decade; just above the disastrous NINE; but there was plenty to appreciate for musical theatre lovers young and old.For ardent fans of the original 1977 musical, or the 1982 movie adaptation, this ANNIE has undergone a hip-hop reimagining, moving the action from the Great Depression to today. No longer is Oliver Warbucks a self-made business tycoon, but Will Stacks is a self-made cell phone tycoon running for Mayor of New York. His political campaign is what generally drives the story; after a chance meeting where Stacks saves Annie from being hit by a truck, his political fortunes take a dramatic up-swing, so his political advisor, Guy (played by two-time Tony-nominee Bobby Cannavale), arranges for his boss to take Annie in, specifically for photo opportunity purposes. Here is where I have a bit of consternation with the rewrites. In the original, Warbucks is a bit reluctant to bond with Annie, but having an orphan spend Christmas with him was in fact his generous idea, not that of a political spin doctor pandering for votes. Sure, this change has resulted in some of the show's signature sentimentality being erased by a healthy dose of modern cynicism, but perhaps this is an appropriate social commentary for a time when the average American is suspicious of every seemingly selfless move that the 1% makes.
There is a certain segment of theatrical devotees that do not take kindly to people "reimagining" their most beloved works, as evidenced by the outrage over rumored changes to the INTO THE WOODS film (which proved not to be true). However, without this type of creative reinvention, we would never have gotten WEST SIDE STORY, CLYBOURNE PARK, or "Hopelessly Devoted to You." So, when I heard that the new film version of ANNIE would feature a reworked script and lyrics, new songs, and a hip-hop mentality, I took a cue from the ever-optimistic orphan and hoped for the best. After all, "Little Orphan Annie" is over 90 years old, and her red jumper could use a bit of an update.Despite the changes and the tonal shift in the script, the movie's biggest issue is in the casting. There is a certain part of the population that still purposely goes to see Cameron Diaz movies, but it certainly isn't to hear her sing. Fortunately for them, you really don't hear her sing in ANNIE all that much either, as her voice is so heavily auto-tuned that she is probably getting side-eye from everything that is wrong with GLEE. It is also pretty apparent that script writers Will Gluck (who also directed) and Aline Brosh McKenna knew that she wasn't going to be much of a singer, so they threw in a joke that Miss Hannigan was a disgraced former member of lip-synching super-group C&C Music Factory.
Despite being produced hip-hop icons Jay Z and Will Smith, amongst others, including Jada Pinkett Smith, the movie does retain certain aspects of the musical's original score by Charles Strouse, however, much of it features rewritten lyrics. Unfortunately, the interpolated lyrics are generally so poor that they stick out like a sore thumb compared to the classics by Martin Charnin. The slant rhyme and terrible scansion is likely to make musical theatre purists cringe. Though it is the most glaring example, since we heard it on the Thanksgiving Day Parade, "No one cares for you a smidge/ When you're a foster kid," is only one of many examples of subpar lyric writing.While I have a bit of an issue with the cynical spin that Gluck and Brosh McKenna put on the movie, I did appreciate many of their little touches. Other than Hannigan's over-the-top obnoxiousness, there was a lot of humor in the script, and tons of allusions to the original musical; from a tap-dancing red-head named Annie, to Annie B. (our Annie) doing a presentation on FDR, to Stacks giving Annie a helicopter ride around the Chrysler Building, to a jazz band being named "Leapin' Lizards," and many more.
There are a lot of plot differences that I won't go into, for fear of spoiling too much, but I would caution longtime ANNIE fans to remember that the 1982 Carol Burnett adaptation differed wildly from the stage version, but it is still cherished over 30 years later. So, if you are going to hate this ANNIE, do so for all of the many things that it does wrong (like the ending stolen directly from THE MUSIC MAN), not simply because it isn't the little orphan tale that you know and love.Check out the trailer below:ANNIE starring Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Bobby Cannavale, Rose Byrne, and Quvenzhané Wallis is rated PG (for some mild language and rude humor), and opens nationwide on Friday, December 19th.Were the dramatic changes too much for you to stomach, or did the heart of ANNIE's story win you over? Let me know what you think in the comments below, or on Twitter @BWWMatt. Also, make sure to follow @BWWMovieWorld for all of the biggest news from the world of movies.
Albert Finney makes an imposing Daddy Warbucks, giving the film's light satire some sly twists. The original Warbucks in the comics was Big Money personified and this incarnation preserves his loyal opposition to The New Deal. As in Metropolis, little Annie provides the 'heart' to reconcile opposite poles in society, in this case Democrats and Republicans instead of workers and bosses. The movie script invents an action climax that enlarges the roles of Warbucks' Third World servants Asp and Punjab, masters of martial arts and Eastern hocus-pocus as conceived in the xenomorphic thirties. Punjab is Geoffrey Holder from Live and Let Die, playing an Indian guru who casts spells and levitates objects at will.
Harold Gray's comic strip Little Orphan Annie started Annie's popularity over 75 years ago. The comic originally contained a strongly conservative storyline with Daddy Warbucks even briefly dying during Franklin D. Roosevelt's fourth term only to miraculously come back to life shortly after FDR's death (www.annie75.com). Annie represented how optimism and a moral character could bring someone to the top as Annie took a literal rise from rags to riches. By the time Annie made it to the movies in 1982, however, the conservativism was a bit more ambiguous. Annie and her story seemed to pull Daddy Warbucks and her audience to the political center just as Reagan himself was attempting at the time. This ambiguity can be seen with plot twists such as Annie convincing Warbucks to help in the New Deal, and the removing of the songs about Herbert Hoover that were in the stage production, leaving it less politically extreme in both directions. I'll be focusing on the 1982 movie version, and not the play, because its recorded form is a single production that reached millions of people and because the document of this production is easily accessible in audio and video recordings. Additionally, to most of the people who responded to me about Annie, even for those who saw the play, the movie seems to take precedence in their memory (mostly likely for the first two reasons stated).
The following summaries of current, widely shown films are provided to help readers plan what to see. Inclusion of a movie does not imply Monitor endorsement. Further description is often supplied in articles on the arts-entertainment pages. The Movie Guide appears on the third Thursday of each month. AIDA - Revival of an amateurish Italian film version of the Verdi opera, with Renata Tebaldi's voice coming from Sophia Loren's mouth. Directed in 1954 by Clemente Fracassi. (Not rated.) ANNIE - Reasonably entertaining romp about a cute little girl who wangles her way from a Dickensian orphanage to a rich man's mansion, on the strength of curly hair and sheer chutzpah. Energetic and well acted, but short on atmosphere - the feel of the Great Depression is evoked less vividly than in the Broadway version of the show - and marred by a silly attempt at action during the climax. Directed by John Huston. (Rated PG; contains drinking jokes and swearing.) BRIMSTONE & TREACLE - A demonic young man barges into the home of a middle-class couple with apparent designs on their handicapped daughter. Directed by Richard Loncraine with misdirected energy. (Rated R; contains nudity and sexual activity.) CHOSEN, THE - In a Jewish section of Brooklyn during the 1940s, a young man gradually grows away from his family's Hasidic way of life, and his father (a powerful rabbi) has trouble accepting the change. Contains the surface, but only bits and pieces of the substance, of the fine Chaim Potok novel on which it is based. Directed by Jeremy Paul Kagan. COME BACK TO THE 5 AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN - Near the Texas town where ''Giant'' was filmed, members of a fan club mark the 20th anniversary of James Dean's death, and we learn something lurid about almost everyone. Sensitively directed by Robert Altman from an uneven and sometimes sensationalistic script by Ed Graczyk. (Rated R; contains vulgar language and sexual discussion.) CREEPSHOW - Like the old ''horror comics'' it mimics, this heavily written and directed black comedy includes several fantastic yarns, ranging from the intermittently suspenseful to the merely gross. Directed by George A. Romero, the trivial film is from from a script by Stephen King. (Rated R; contains violence and vulgar language.) DAS BOOT - Except for a number of scatological details and vulgar words, this is an old-fashioned action movie about a German submarine during World War II. As everyone knows, there isn't much you can do in a submarine picture, but this one contains all the venerable conventions of the genre, from the emergency dive to the obligatory close-ups of the water-pressure gauge. A film from West Germany, directed by Wolfgang Petersen. DIARIES (1971-1976) - Boston filmmaker Ed Pincus chronicles his life over a period of five years in this 200-minute documentary, capturing a lengthy but narrow range of human foibles as embodied by himself, his family, and his friends. (Not rated; contains sexual discussions and nudity.) DIVA - Fast and furious thriller about a young music fan who secretly records a performance by his favorite prima donna, a gaggle of cops and robbers who think his tape holds criminal evidence, and some crazed capitalists who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the real opera recording. Directed by French newcomer Jean-Claude Beineix with lots of style, it avoids sensationalism except for a little nudity and some violence near the end. EATING RAOUL - Cannibalistic comedy about a bourgeois couple who are more shocked by sex than by murder. Directed by Paul Bartel. (Rated R; contains cartoonish sex and violence, and vulgar language.) ENDANGERED SPECIES - A sheriff sets out to discover who's mutilating cattle in her territory and stumbles on a nasty secret involving chemical-warfare experiments. Directed by Alan Rudolph with a wacky energy and wit that help compensate for its excesses. (Rated R; contains sexual behavior, occasional vulgar language, and shots of animal carcasses.) E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL - Lost on the planet Earth, a friendly spaceman becomes the secret pal of a little boy, who can't believe his own good fortune. A grade-school version of ''Close Encounters of the Third Kind,'' directed by Steven Spielberg with lots of wit in the first half, but too much artificial emotion in the long climax, which leads to a resolution right out of ''Peter Pan.'' (Rated PG; contains a little vulgar language and a sci-fi medical sequence.) FITZCARRALDO - An obsessive music lover tries to strike it rich in South America so he can realize his dream of building an opera house in the jungles of Peru. Directed by West German filmmaker Werner Herzog, who neatly pulls off the great physical stunts at the heart of the film, but neglects the flow and logic of the movie as a whole. (Rated PG; contains a bit of violence and a character who runs a brothel.) FIVE DAYS ONE SUMMER - Sean Connery plays a middle-aged Scottish doctor who appears to be having a happy vacation in the Swiss Alps with his young wife but is actually caught in a relationship fraught with strains and secrets. Directed by Fred Zinnemann with consistent taste and artistry despite some touchy subject matter. (Rated PG; contains an unconventional sexual relationship.) GREGORY'S GIRL - Scottish comedy about a gangly young man who can't get a date with the only girl on the soccer team, but finds romance knocking on his door anyway. A gentle and winsome movie, though loosely glued together. Directed by Bill Forsyth. (Rated PG; contains occasional vulgar language and a brief peeping-tom scene.) JINXED! - For better or worse, depending on your taste, Bette Midler dominates this pitch-black comedy about a plot to murder a roughneck gambler. Directed by action specialist Don Siegel with some of his usual energy along with plenty of bad taste. (Rated R; contains vulgar language, some violence, and sexual activity.) L'ADOLESCENTE - Memory movie about a girl entering maturity while living on a farm, surrounded by relatives and friends of diverse types and dispositions. Has a warm and nostalgic glow, though sometimes trite, artificial, or distasteful. Directed by French actress Jeanne Moreau. (Not rated; contains occasional vulgarity.) LOLA - In a plot recalling the classic ''The Blue Angel,'' a respectable bureaucrat falls in love with a nightclub singer and gradually abandons his scruples. Directed by the late Rainer Werner Fassbinder as the second film in his trilogy on postwar economic life in West Germany. (Rated R; contains some verbal and visual vulgarity.) MISSIONARY, THE - Hilarity battles bad taste to a standoff in this British comedy about a clergyman assigned to save ''fallen women.'' Directed by Richard Loncraine from a screenplay by star Michael Palin. (Rated R; contains much sexual innuendo.) MY FAVORITE YEAR - Sharp jokes and clever sight gags rub elbows with cheap humor and low slapstick in this comedy about a dissolute movie star preparing to appear on a 1950s TV show. Directed by Richard Benjamin. (Rated PG; contains vulgar language, drunkenness, and a bit of sexual innuendo.) OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, AN - Except for its realisticaly rotten language and sexual activity, this is a surprisingly old-fashioned military drama about a young man dragged into maturity by a tough-but-kindly drill sergeant. The training and growing-up scenes are very effective. But the movie also wants to be a love story, and here it sinks into trite and sometimes distasteful formulas. Directed by Taylor Hackford. (Rated R; contains vulgar language and nudity.) PINK FLOYD THE WALL - ''Tommy'' meets ''Heavy Metal'' in this bloody, garish, effectively paranoid fantasy that seems to be about a hallucinatory young man holed up with his nightmares in a ritzy apartment. Directed by Alan Parker and based on the Pink Floyd record album, which is far from their best work. (Rated R; contains sex and violence.) POLTERGEIST - Spooks invade a suburban home, cause some harmless mischief, and then turn nasty. The buildup is slow and deliberate, creating a vivid sense of love and warmth within the family who share the harrowing adventure. The climaxes are horrific, with effects recalling ''Raiders of the Lost Ark,'' but in a less exotic setting. Directed by Tobe Hooper, with Steven Spielberg as producer. (Rated PG; contains violent episodes.) Q - If you can believe an ancient Aztec god would be reincarnated in New York City and lay an egg in the Chrysler Building, you may find some redeeming features in this extravagantly filmed horror-comic fantasy, though its bizarre violence will turn most viewers off from the start. Directed by Larry Cohen. (Rated R; contains much gore and a little nudity.) SWEET HOURS - A man falls in love with a woman who reminds him of his mother. Directed by Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura, in a wildly Freudian mood. (Not rated; contains nudity.) TEX - Sensitive, moving, intelligent drama of a teen-age boy who wants to grow up but isn't sure how to go about it. The plot, adapted from S. E. Hinton's popular novel, follows the title character through several adventures, touching on difficult topics including drugs and tentative sex but maintaining a tasteful and responsible attitude in every scene. Directed with tact and insight by newcomer Tim Hunter for Walt Disney productions. (Rated PG; contains some violence and mildly vulgar language.) TIME STANDS STILL - Hungarian drama about high school students in the 1960s coming to grips with adolescence while weathering the storms of a shifting sociopolitical climate. Skillfully directed by Peter Gothar. (Not rated; contains some sexual activity.) VERONIKA VOSS - Glowingly filmed but often sordid ''Sunset Boulevard''-type melodrama about a faded movie star in the clutches of a doctor (symbolizing the worst aspects of capitalism) who artificially eases her angst. Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, as the centerpiece of his trilogy on postwar economic life in West Germany, shortly before his untimely passing last June. (Rated R; contains references to sex and drugs.) WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, THE - Episodic adaptation of John Irving's overrated novel about a boy who grows up to become an author, a wrestler, and a family man , influenced by his unconventional mother and her odd friends. Paints a moving portrait of the contentments of middle-class life, especially in the second half , but begs a lot of questions (particularly economic ones) and has a weird sexual uneasiness that touches many of the situations and most of the characters , including a transsexual and a group of violently extreme feminists. Directed by George Roy Hill. (Rated R; contains vulgar language, offbeat sexual activity, and some violence.) XICA DA SILVA - Dull though sometimes colorful Brazilian drama about a slave woman who uses her feminine wiles to gain power and prestige. Directed by Carlos Diegues. (Not rated; contains nudity and sexual activity.) 781b155fdc