I’m not going to bury the lede like I usually do in an attempt to be fanciful and poetic. Nope. Here’s your bold face headline right here:
The redhead loved it.
That’s the primo takeaway from our advanced screening of Annie, a full month before she sings & dances her way back onto Cineplex screens and into waiting hearts ready to fall in love all over again or for the very first time. The natural redhead, a discerning lass, who name checks the musical without hesitation when discussing topics such as ‘favorite movie ever’ and ‘most cherished childhood memory’ at dinner parties to this day, was dubious heading in, and understandably so. Change is hard and memories precious, but my redhead was all smiles as the credits rolled. And the kids, they were full-throated in song and filled with glee that Miss Hannigan’s story was a fully redemptive one and that Annie never lost faith that her birth parents will indeed return for her…and for some classic New York City cannoli to boot.
The Annie of 2014 wins big.
Set in a present day Big Apple, against a backdrop of mobile connectivity speeds, social media slings & arrows, and outrageous political fortunes, this Annie renews an old promise of a better tomorrow for a new generation of pint size dreamers. The modern retelling of this classic tale also delivers poignant messages for anyone facing long odds in their own hard knock life and for those wishing to sanitize relationships with loved ones.
William Stacks (Jamie Foxx), billionaire cell phone magnate and would-be mayor, has walled himself off from a city he hopes to save (like Batman, as the joke goes). Whereas bustling servants surrounded his spiritual predecessor decades ago, Stacks acutely reflects our digital age of socialization, which often ends up nothing more than a high-tech iteration of extreme loneliness. Of course, Annie’s (Quvenzhané Wallis) spunk and charm eventually breaks through Stacks’ protective case and she manages to convince him, with her patented smile, to put down both his phone and his phone business to be present with her in the moment. Those glorious moments of childhood joy will not cause a stock price to soar but it will do exactly that to one’s heart.
Many parents, foster or otherwise, and I myself am not immune to this either, are too buried in devices and work and digital time wasting to notice fully the things and the people that make life worth singing about. But all is not lost, because there’s always tomorrow to try anew to be more involved in our actual life and with whom we’re living it.
Annie reminds us that with a smile, and a little song and dance, tomorrow is still full of hope and sunshine. We simply need to pick up our chin, try again and believe.