The motion picture Annie, which opens today, is an imaginative and refreshing telling of a story we all think we heard before.
Like recent biopics such as Ray, Walk the Line and Dreamgirls, some liberties were taken in this film version of the life of Eurythmics lead singer Annie Lennox, who, coincidentally, celebrates her 60th birthday today. Though in real life Lennox was born and raised in Scotland, the filmmakers set their story in New York City. Lennox was 28 years old when Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” became a worldwide smash, making her a very wealthy woman. In the film Annie, she is ten years old when her sweet dreams come true and she acquires wealth.
This past summer’s Jimi Hendrix biopic, All Is by My Side, was unable to acquire the rights to use Hendrix’s music, so they used cover songs that Hendrix performed in his pre-fame days. Similarly, the producers of Annie were unable to secure the rights to Eurythmics’ songs, so instead they wrote new songs loosely based on the duo’s recordings. “When Tomorrow Comes” from their album Revenge, is now simply “Tomorrow.” “Grown Up Girls,” the b-side of the “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)” single, is now “Little Girls.”
Eurythmics’ infamous performance from the Grammy Awards, in which Lennox cross-dressed as a dark-haired, sideburned man, is replicated in the film, though instead of taking place at the Shrine Auditorium, the scene is set on a helicopter. Nonetheless, the confusion the TV audience experienced in 1984, when viewers asked “Why is there a man singing ‘Sweet Dreams?’,” is beautifully captured, as the film audience will be confused and ask “Why are they dancing on a helicopter?”
As you probably know, the studio that released Annie, Sony Pictures, experienced a huge email leak a couple of weeks ago, in which it was revealed, among other things, that the producers originally wanted Amy Adams to play Annie Lennox. However, her asking price was too high, or as Sony’s Co-Chairman Amy Pascal put it in an email to film co-producer Jay-Z, “She wants a man’s salary. She’ll get it when she’s really adopted by a milionaire!,” to which Jay-Z replied “LOL!” Though Adams would have been good, 11-year-old Quetzalcoatl Wallis handles herself admirably. While we never get into her mind to see how she came up with “Here Comes the Rain Again” or “Would I Lie to You?,” she is cute, and the film’s equivalent of the Eurythmics/Aretha Franklin hit “Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves,” here performed with Willow Smith, is a highlight.
In an inspired bit of casting, Cameron Diaz portrays Whitney Houston, who had a hit with the Lennox composition “Step by Step.” Diaz is a great choice for the role, as she possesses the same range as the late Houston.
Annie is rated PG. It contains mild language, rude humor, and a dance number set on a helicopter.
Today Tunes du Jour presents twenty Annie Lennox songs not included in the movie Annie.
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