Most people are familiar with the " Annie" musical of 1977, which has the signature song, "The Sun will Come Out Tomorrow." This musical was a hit on Broadway, and spawned the "Annie" movie of 1982 - that starred Aileen Quinn, Albert Finney and Carol Burnett. The musical is also credited with inspiring the "Annie" 1999 Disney TV movie, starring Andrea McArdle, Victor Garber, and Kathy Bates.
The 82 and 99 movies all have one thing in common with the musical - they all share the same story line, are set in the same time period - the Depression era of the 1930's, and feature many of the same songs written by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. Of course, these were all based on the widely popular comic strip, "Little Orphan Annie" - which was originally created by Harold Gray in 1924.
Flash forward to 2014 - and "Annie" has gotten a new modern twist, courtesy of producers: James Lassiter, Will Gluck, Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, Caleeb Pinkett, Shawn "JAY Z" Carter, Laurence "Jay" Brown, and Tyran "Ty Ty" Smith. Of course, most people remember Will Smith's remake of the Karate Kid movie, using his own son, Jaden. Originally, the Annie movie was going to be used as a vehicle for his daughter Willow - but the producers went another direction and hired the charming, Quvenzhané Wallis in the lead.
For those of you who are familiar with how Will Smth changed the storyline from the 1984 Karate Kid movie to the new version in 2010 - will not be surprised that the new Annie is radically different than the old. It is no longer set in the Depression era, but Annie is a child of today's foster system. Yes there is still an evil Miss Hanagan , however, she is no longer the head mistress of an orphanage. Now she is a "foster mom," played by Cameron Diaz. Today's Annie, like her predecessor, was abandonbed by her parents with the promise that they would come back for her someday. She also still has her dog Sandy. However, with another modern twist, there is no "Daddy Warbucks" - industrialist and entrepeneur. In the 2014 version, Annie is taken in by Will Stacks, played by Jaimie Foxx, who is using Annie as a ploy to help his campaign in a mayoral race. My how times have changed! Of course, the fake parents ultimately show up, and they want her back - along with the reward.
While I understand it is really fun to bring a totally new twist to an old storyline - it will remain to be seen if this new version of Annie will live up to the high standards of its predecessors. Truthfully, I have no problem with the change in ethnicity of the characters - especially since this Annie has a modern setting. However, it is really hard to buy into the premise that in this day and age with technology and birth registration requirements, her parents were unknown. And, how is it that social services couldn't track down her parents - or even verify that the fake parents are really hers or not (DNA would quickly rule this out)? In the 1930's - that was totally possible - not so much today. It will also be interesting to see how truthful this movie is in depicting today's foster system. Where in the Depression era - the orphanages were places that children rarely left. Unlike today's foster system where children are bounced around from place to place.
Historically, the whole premise of the Annie character is she is an independent kid - who really doesn't want to - or need to rely on ANYONE to get what she needs. While the musical and subsequent movie renditions did touch on this topic, the original Little Orphan Annie of the comic strip was a "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" kind of girl - and hated being dependent on any sort of government aid or social services in order to better her life. The fact that she comes into contact with Oliver Daddy Warbucks - who recognizes the same independent spirit in Annie as he has himself - is only by happenstance. In each other they see a kindred spirit - as both are self-made people.
While I haven't seen this new version, it will be interesting to see if it can live up to the character that we all know and love. The movie opened in theaters December 19, 2014.