Remaking a classic musical such as Annie is never an easy thing to do, and yet that is what this revamped version of the play based on Harold Gray’s comic ‘Little Orphan Annie’ aims to do. When it was first announced that Will Smith wanted to put a new spin and urbanise this much-loved Broadway show, the public jumped on board with anticipation. Despite the fact that most remakes are being done just for the sake of making a movie, one can’t help but feel tempted to watch Smith’s take on Annie and that’s simply because it’s a childhood memory brought to life.
The film, as a whole, is not the greatest production to come from Will Gluck [Easy A] or from Village Roadshow, which released hits like The Great Gatsby, the Matrix and the Ocean’s Trilogy. The film lacked the remake spark; no oomph factor that really set it aside from the original. Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhané Wallis do bring something new to the table as the new slick and fresh Daddy Warbucks and the free-spirited Annie but it just tends to fall flat in terms of story execution. It never really reaches the heights of pomp and flair expected of it.
Having said that, what is commendable is the music, the cinematography and the costumes. Gluck left no stone unturned in creating a picturesque New York City musical, from the rhythmic banging of mops and brooms in “It’s a Hard Knock Life” to “MoonQuake Lake” where Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis play starcrossed lovers who cry luminous blue tears and trust sea-human creatures with their lives. It’s an effective parody of almost every fantasy film released in the past five years. The soundtrack is the production’s best quality. It’s a fresh R’n’B / Hip-Hop take on the 1930s original music, courtesy of Jay Z’s Roc Nation, Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment and a few other famed music production companies.
The story may be lacked in comparison to the freshness of the filmmaking but it does succeed in bringing back to life a classic Broadway musical in the modernday era with a versatile and talented ensemble cast. It caused a few hearty laughs and struck a few nerves in the audience but all in all, it reignited memories. I’m sure many 11-year-olds (and probably a few of the older audience who grew up on the 1982 adaptation) loved singing along to the much-loved songs. Musicals may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but they will never go out of style, so you might as well just sing along.