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How Annie Was Updated for 2014

Photo: Sony Pictures, Barry Wetcher/Sony Pictures

Will Gluck isn’t the first to remake Annie, but he’s certainly the first to attempt to modernize it for the big screen. Aside from various plot and song changes (no Rooster, no Lily St. Regis, and the addition of a few tunes written by Sia), there are a slew of “It’s 2014!” updates that take Annie out of the 1930s and into the new millennium. Here are the most notable.

Annie is a foster kid — not an orphan.
Little Orphan Annie no more! This year’s Annie is a more common modern-day equivalent: a kid who gets passed around from family to family and is never adopted because couples don’t want to take in kids that aren’t babies.

Miss Hannigan is essentially a starving artist living on welfare checks.
Cameron Diaz’s Miss Hannigan (or “Colleen”) is a disgruntled foster mother who lives off the weekly checks she gets from the state to house and feed Annie and the other foster kids. Instead of bathtub gin, she slugs martinis and repeatedly reminds everyone about her lost shot at celebrity after losing her spot in C+C Music Factory. Yes, that C+C Music Factory, the one responsible for so many wonderful tracks off Jock Jams. (Side note: C+C had their own real-life scandal when singer Martha Walsh claimed it was her voice performing that famous “Everybody dance now” hook, but that the band had replaced her in the video with lip-synching model Zelma Davis. She sued for royalties and credit, receiving both and even helping to create federal legislation that made credits on CDs and music videos mandatory.)

Annie’s ideal parents still collect “college ashtrays and art,” but Miss Hannigan goes full pill-popper. 
In “Hard Knock Life” we go from “You’re gonna clean this dump till it shines like the top of the Chrysler Building” to “And make sure my bathroom shines / But don’t touch my medicine cabinet.” Prescription pills are definitely more popular these days. Speaking of, they smartly chuck Annie’s “Mickey Finn” reference — it’s a drink laced with drugs.

Sandy the Dog is named after Sandy the Hurricane.
It’s true: Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) calls the unruly mutt “a hurricane” and there we go.

Daddy Warbucks no more.
Name change aside (I guess “Oliver Warbucks” was a little too on the nose for Annie 2014), Annie’s father figure went from old, bald, white man to cool guy Foxx, and his singing voice went from deep and growl-y to smooth and silky. Upgrade! Instead of having made his millions as a 1930s “industrialist,” 2014’s Stacks is a technology entrepreneur — selling the latest smartphones across the country. His phones never drop a call, and he’s got the city-wide tracking system to prove it.

Stacks lives in a “smart apartment.”
“This used to be a Basquiat. Now it’s a dog and a deer in a meadow,” jokes Stacks about a painting in Annie’s bedroom. The painting wasn’t replaced, bur rather it changed automatically when Annie “spoke” to the system. Stacks lives in a modern-day version of that Disney movie, Smart House, the one where the voice of Katey Sagal goes all Hal on its family. Drake and Mrs. Pugh are no more. Stacks’s teched-out apartment does the job of all the maids, butlers, and servants in the 1982 version of Annie — the ones that draw her baths, order her tennis lessons, and pick out her clothes.

All of this technology actually comes in handy
It’s geotagging we really have to thank for saving Annie from a likely terrible fate. As her fake parents attempt to take her across the border (Who really knows what they had in store for lil Annie?), kids from other cars notice Annie — she’s a local celebrity, after Stacks drums up press surrounding his mayoral campaign — and begin to tweet her photo. Stacks and his squad use the tweet locations to find the car’s route. Seriously. It’s like Apple’s Find My Phone, but for your lost child. (Just ignore all that privacy stuff.)

How Annie Was Updated for 2014