Thursday, March 20, 2014

Remakes, Reimaginings and Sequels - Annie

Knowing how I feel about movies based on established properties already, you might be able to guess how I feel about the upcoming Annie remake. Or maybe you can't guess. Or maybe you could guess, but you just don't care. Either way, I'll tell you.

If you haven't heard about this yet, allow me to fill you on the "controversy" : Annie and the "Daddy Warbucks" character are black. BAM! Skin color change! Everybody freak the fuck out! 

It has the potential to be good. Really. That is not to say that I think it will be good, but just that there's an idea there that could work.

The story of Annie is one our most quintessential "rags-to-riches" tales, and if you're going to update a story like that for a modern American audience, it needs to acknowledge the wealth gap between whites and blacks. (Obligatory reference for people who refuse to acknowledge this is true: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/28/these-seven-charts-show-the-black-white-economic-gap-hasnt-budged-in-50-years/) Which is not to say that if you're simply going to remake Annie that Annie's skin color would actually matter. The point of Annie is that she's poor, not a specific ethnic group.

However, making Annie black does open up the possibility of bringing that black/white gap to the discussion table. I'm not entirely sure that it will because this movie will probably be dumb to do that, and because Annie is being taken care of in a foster home, I guess. When a child in a movie ends up in family services, that might mean that the focus is going to either be on "hey, the system works", or "look at bad foster homes are!" Both messages are not entirely conducive to racial messages, but I haven't even seen the movie yet so what the fuck do I know?

Regardless of whatever message they could have sent, from the trailer it appears like the focus is going to be Look at horrible Cameron Diaz is. Seriously, she ruins the movie in the first twenty seconds of the trailer.


I'm not even sure what the joke there is supposed to be? Aren't I supposed to be married to George Clooney? Um, no. Why would you be? Who's George Clooney? I guess we're making fun of Clooney because he's old? Is that the joke? Little girls don't know who George Clooney is, but this mentally handicapped woman wishes she was married to him? Or...what? Because here it makes it sound like child services should have given notice, but they failed, and the world doesn't work out the way that it's supposed to be. But then, that would make child services the incompetent one in this scenario, and Diaz's character just trying to get shit done before they come over. But, I guess Diaz's character is the incompetent one that we're supposed to hate, right? So...maybe child services did give notice, but Diaz just forgot or neglected to tell them? In which case, a much better joke that I can think of off the top of my head would be: Aren't they supposed to give notice? I don't know. Aren't I supposed to feed you three times a day?

I'm not exaggerating when I say that Diaz makes me want to avoid seeing this movie. Is she just supposed to be annoying? And not a child-abuser? Is she supposed to be comedic relief? Is that why she yells? Why does she yell?

There's other things that make me see a potential wasted here. I imagine they won't even discuss the fact that Jamie Foxx's character is black. I bet the ideas about how much harder it would be for a childless, unmarried(?) black man to run for mayor won't even be mentioned. The music. Could you have updated the music a bit, guys? You're making a modern version of Annie about about a modern update the songs? Hopefully somebody will figure out that there's a good idea here and make a decent movie out of it someday.
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