by Tony Medley
Runtime 120 minutes.
OK for children.
Lerner and Lowe’s Camelot is full of wonderful music. It was made
into one of the worst musicals ever filmed, starring the barbarian
drunkard, Richard Harris (he drank at least three bottles of hard liquor
daily), but the alternative would have been Richard Burton who starred
in the play on Broadway and was equally alcoholic, and Vanessa Redgrave,
hardly a gorgeous heartthrob, as Guinevere. Worse, neither were singers
(although Harris became one after learning how to talk songs by playing
Burton’s role in Camelot), so the beautiful music was wasted. Nobody has
tried to remake Camelot with stars who could do the music justice.
Why, then, would a mediocre musical like Annie get another shot?
The 1982 original film, that had quality people who knew how to make
musicals, like Bob Fosse protégé Ann Reinking and Bernadette Peters,
barely made back its production cost and is 1,231 on the all-time gross
list. Camelot, on the other hand, more than doubled its
production cost and made a reasonable profit for Warner Bros.,
regardless of how bad it was.
Now, for some unknown reason, Columbia gives Annie another shot.
But instead of a redheaded girl with blank round circles for eyes who is
constantly saying “Gloriosky” and “Leapin’ lizards” (which is what Annie
was in the comic strip) and a baldheaded Daddy Warbucks, in this Annie
she’s black (Quvenzhané Wallis) and there is no baldheaded Daddy
Warbucks. In fact there’s no Daddy Warbucks. Instead we have Jamie Foxx,
who as everyone knows, is also black, as billionaire Will Stacks who is
running for Mayor of New York City. So maybe Columbia is aiming for a
Alas, they are still left with the mediocre music. Annie was
really a one song show (“Tomorrow”). The first rendering of the song by
Annie is pretty lackluster, maybe because of the uninspired
choreography. I couldn’t find a credit for anyone as choreographer, so
maybe Quvenzhané just winged it; that’s what it looked like. Director
Will Gluck (who also wrote the relatively hackneyed screenplay with
Aline Brosh McKenna) finally wises up and closes with a smashing reprise
of “Tomorrow” by the full cast under the closing credits, which is too
little too late. If you’ve stayed for that long, though, you might as
well stay another couple of minutes.
Unfortunately, that was the best part of the movie.