“It’s a Hard-Knock Life… for Us”


Yes, this is another in a series of reviews from the Uncritical Critic where I gush endlessly and almost mindlessly about movies, TV, books, and other sorts of stories that I love.  And just like other reviews that I have done, writing mainly to myself, this will probably bore you to the point of having to sandpaper  your tush just to stay conscious through it.  But I do, in fact, have a social conscience.  I do care about things moral and ethical.  That’s why I’m not going to talk about this Annie;


I want to talk about this one;


I am not sure how any of my white, conservative friends can work up such an angry fizzyblackengrrr about the remake of the musical using black actors as the principles.  I am not saying I don’t see color and I don’t notice the changes in the basic story to make it fit a more different-race-friendly cultural magnetism.  I am saying I love the changes.


Quvenzhane Wallis is one of those little girls that, if she were actually an orphan, would be adopted in record time.  She sings, dances, and exudes a personal charisma to a degree that is not only perfect for this particular musical, but is not an act.  It is obviously her real, perky, upbeat self.  I would adopt her instantly even though I don’t have the finances, energy, or good health necessary to make that kind of commitment any more.  And the changes made to the songs, setting, and themes of the basic story I think are not only brilliant, but so very appropriate to our times.  The story of an orphan connecting to a lonely, power-hungry billionaire is transformed by the idea of finding the best way to connect the family that you not only want, but desperately need.  The Daddy Warbucks character, played brilliantly by Jamie Foxx, is able to realize his connection to his own lost father as he transforms himself into the father figure that Annie needs.  Songs are added and dialogue is changed in ways to bring out these complex themes of love and need.  It is a very different story from the one found in the Aileen Quinn/Carol Burnett film of the 1980’s.  And it is a story that needs to be told.


“You are never fully dressed without a smile!” is an important theme for any person of color, or any outsider in our American society today.  The troubles and strife related to race tension, violence, and the American struggle to rid itself of racism are best faced with a kind of confident optimism that this musical was always intended to be a vehicle for.

It is a statement about the basic goodness of human beings.  This version of the musical even redeems the vile Miss Hannigan, leaving her at the end with a change of heart and a Hispanic boyfriend.  So, I really think that anyone who has a problem with this remake of a beloved musical made by Jay-Z, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith ought to examine the real reasons they feel troubled by it.  I think they really ought to let go of all baggage, especially the alligator-skin bags of racism, and just immerse themselves in this wonderful movie full of singy and dancy stuff.



Filed under humor, movie review, music, racial profiling, red States, strange and wonderful ideas about life

10 responses to ““It’s a Hard-Knock Life… for Us”

  1. [ Smiles ] A new twist on an old theme!

  2. Mickey, for some reason, I have been worn out by “Annie.” I think when it first came out, the lead song was overplayed on the radio, in commercials and on TV talk shows. The initial Annie actress rivaled Debby Boone in the number of “You Light up Life” appearances.

    It is a great play, but it is like a great pop song – you eventually grow tired of the song due to overplaying. So, my enthusiasm for the updated version was less than zealous for the reasons noted above. If I offend anyone by this, that is not my intention. Keith

    • I can understand the sentiment. It didn’t happen to me. I have only seen the musical once on stage. I watched the 1982 movie once in the theater and once on HBO. I then didn’t see this new version until I got a $3 copy of the DVD from Walmart’s bargain bin. So I haven’t been as saturated with it as you have.

  3. mphadventuregirl

    I love Annie and it was my favorite musical in elementary school. I grew up watching the 1982 version and saw the stage show two years ago. I have not yet watched the new Annie because I am kind of afraid that it will ruin a childhood favorite musical of mine. But I can understand why some people will want to watch this new Annie version

    • I think you might like it if you approach it as a different musical than the one you love. It has the same basic songs, but it has new ones added, it is set in the present day, and characters have been changed, sometimes 180 degrees. The story echoes the original, but is definitely not the same.

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