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.