In which I am a grumpy old biddy and bitch and moan about remakes of movies and shake my fist at the Hollywood kids these days on my lawn with their music and remakes.
There’s a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooong list of movies with unnecessary remakes floating around Hollywood and I am not going to pretend this post is anything near comprehensive because I don’t have that kind of time, you guys. I have a life to lead and so do you. But off the top of my head, here's a list of movies pointlessly remade by The Hollywood Machine for no reason other than money. Money money money because, as ABBA sagely noted, it’s always sunny in the rich man’s world.
…. You know what? I’m already exhausted. Remakes have been a Hollywood staple for years and years and years. It’s not a recent phenomenon. By Hollywood standards if something is good once, it’s good two, three, even four times. By way of example, reference this post wherein I discuss Hollywood's long-standing tradition of making and remaking pirate movies, especially versions of Treasure Island. It’s not a new thing. But it is an increasingly irritating thing and the reason is largely due to accessibility.
Back in the day (what Hollywood likes to nostalgically call their ‘golden age’) TV sets were a relatively newfangled contraption and only got broadcast channels. In order to watch films, you had to set aside time to visit the movie theatre and enjoy them on the big screen. You couldn’t download them, stream them, purchase them in various formats from DVD to digital, pirate them, share them, gif them… you get the idea. So you might have saved up to see Treasure Island in theatres and then told friends and children about how great the experience was and they’d only have had your word on it. If Hollywood decided, the next year, to make another Treasure Island, everybody would have been happy because the first version was only a word-of-mouth memory and all anybody remembered is that it was fun. Now, however, we have quite literally hundreds of ways to view films from classic theatre screenings and re-releases to legal and illegal options in the privacy of our own home to viewing in transit via tablets and so on. You want to watch Citizen Kane on your iPhone while flying the redeye from LA to NYC? Go ahead. You want to back-to-back view both the 1933 and 2005 versions of King Kong while writing a compare/contrast essay? Nobody’s stopping you. And that’s why remakes seem so much more tiresome in the modern age: because the originals are hardly forgotten – they’re still in regular circulation. Accessing classic films has never been easier. When Hollywood remakes a film now, we all have clear memories of what they’re re-telling. Memories that may even stem from yesterday’s blu-ray viewing.
Which brings me to Annie.
Okay, Annie is hardly an untouched property. Annie was initially a comic strip called Little Orphan Annie that debuted in 1924. The comic proved so popular that a Broadway musical called Annie opened in 1977 and in fact the musical's most recent revival was in 2012. Hollywood, never being one to sneeze at an opportunity to pilfer from any medium available (books, comics, plays, musicals, Britain), turned Annie into a film in 1982. So Annie is already a storied property. I’m not going to pretend otherwise. What I am going to contend is that the 1982 film was damn near perfection from plucky execution to musical staging to casting. The cast of Annie is really its crowning glory. Albert Finney as Daddy Warbucks, Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan, Ann Reinking as Grace Farrell, Tim Curry as Rooster, Bernadette Peters as Lily, and newcomer Aileen Quinn as the most perfect Annie. The film was directed by none other than John Huston. One more time: Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry, and Bernadette Peters directed by John Huston. *swoon* You guys, just stop. Take my money, Annie. It’s perfection. It’s absolute musical scenery-chewing comedic perfection. Nothing can top that cast. NOTHING.
But that didn’t stop the powers-that-be from releasing a sequel called Annie: A Royal Adventure featuring an all-new (lesser) cast and no songs. Nor from releasing a Wonderful World of Disney movie remake featuring Victor Garber, Kathy Bates, Audra McDonald, Alan Cumming, and Kristin Chenoweth. Look, as casts go you definitely cannot sneeze at Kathy Bates, Audra McDonald, Alan Cumming, and Kristin Chenoweth. Still, though…. as great as they are they’re not quite Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters, you know? But whatever, Disney, I’ll give you that one because whatever. For reasons and Alan Cumming.
This most recent remake, however, needs to stop. Annie is already perfect and has already been imperfectly remade. The 1982 film is widely available to rent, buy, stream, etc. There’s no reason for you not to have seen it. This new 2014 version is ‘updated’ which is a term Hollywood likes to apply to the plundering and pillaging of your childhood (see also: Transformers, Battleship, Jem and the Holograms…) which means Annie is now a plucky foster kid in the care of Cameron Diaz and whom Jamie Foxx and his assistant Rose Byrne take in to make their images more voter-friendly in his mayoral campaign. Rooster and Lily do not exist in this version. But Annie is still plucky, there are still fellow orphans, there’s still Miss Hannigan, there are still songs (‘updated’ ones with writing credits by Sia, among others)… it’s still Annie, is my point.
My other point is that in nobody’s idea of justice or sanity is Cameron Diaz taking the Carol Burnett role of Miss Hannigan. There’s just… I can’t… it’s not… NO. Nothing personal, Cameron. It’s just total and unending props given to Carol Burnett for being the queen of comedy forever.
And without making any further arguments against you giving Annie 2014 your money, I will instead simply link to classic The Carol Burnett Show clips to close my argument FOR you buying the 1982 (and only) version of Annie needed on this good earth.
- Corinne Simpson