New York City gets a hefty dose of promotion and publicity in the new “Annie” musical slated for a Dec. 19 release. From Harlem to Liberty State Park in New Jersey, the 20/20 view illuminates the Big Apple adding 21st century relevance to the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip character popularized in newspapers in 1924.
Spotlighting city sights tourists might acknowledge to be significant landmarks, uptown neighborhoods and the widest canvas to appreciate when the entire cast crosses the George Washington Bridge arriving at Liberty State Park in New Jersey where the view is breath-taking and beautiful.
The revised version of a 1977 Broadway play; a film made in 1992 and a television production that aired in 1999 returns in a 21st century, high-tech musical that may prove relatable to a new generation of film lovers. Starring Academy award nominee Quvenzhane Wallis as the orphaned 10-year-old, the young actress departs from her break-through role in the film “Beast of the Southern Wild” which earned her notice with a nod for an Oscar. She is Annie Bennett, an optimistic child who yearns for her parents to return to retrieve her from the punishing life.
Creating history, Wallis is the first African-American to tackle the Cinderella story which follows the adventures of a charming youth, her fellow orphaned friends, and a savior who transforms her life from the foster home run by Colleen Hannigan, a selfish, money hungry guardian portrayed by Cameron Diaz.
In the original versions, Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks, is a billionaire tycoon who takes the disfranchised child into his care. In this reincarnated release Jaime Foxx portrays Will Stacks, a rich tycoon who has hit it big in the cell phone industry. Stacks is not just rich, he’s powerful and aspiring to be mayor. He lives in a smart home and travels with an entourage that includes spin-doctors and assistants at his ready to provide relief for his compulsive germaphobia. Foxx plays it to the max and when the little girl comes in contact with him he is quick to lavish hand-sanitizing cleanser to ward off any bacteria he could encounter. His Manhattan, penthouse responds to voice commands. Any request is granted with mood settings, food appeasements, temperature adjustments and a myriad of other high-tech provisions.
Produced by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, James Lassiter, Will Gluck, Caleeb Pinkett, Laurence “Jay” Brown and Tyran Smith, the film features cameos by Rihanna, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis.
Hip-hop fans will recall that back in 1998 Jay-Z sampled “It’s a Hard-Knock Life,” one of the signature songs from the production. Along with “Tomorrow,” the telling tracks enliven an old tale retold to the liking of pop-culture historians.
And yes, grandma, although not as fierce as the storm that stopped New York, Sandy the dog is back to soothe the fears of the little orphaned Annie. All in all, New York looks so nice, viewers will want to see it twice.