One thing I found interesting, and remarked upon in several reviews, was the criticism that this Annie seems excessively enamoured of the latest electronic and digital gadgetry (which, unlike a historical setting, will date the film badly in just a few years). Instead of a beautiful mansion, its Warbucks-equivalent, Mr Stacks, lives in a penthouse apartment which is described as “chilly,” “cavernous,” “sterile” and loaded with the latest technology.
(They decided to update Daddy Warbucks into a tech billionaire, which is such a tone-deaf decision. In modernising his name to a new slang term for cash, they didn’t seem to notice that he isn’t just called Daddy Bucks. He’s Daddy Warbucks. It’s not subtle. The man is a war profiteer. He needs to be redeemed by loving Annie and becoming charitable and generous not only because he’s a hard-nosed Republican materialist, but because he made his fortune in perfectly legal but deeply unethical ways. I also have no idea why they chose to introduce the idea that he’s concerned about his public image because he’s running for mayor. Why would he want to become mayor? Wouldn’t that interfere with his business, the only thing he truly cares about before Annie? Okay, digression over.)
One reviewer made a very interesting point that the film’s only concept of poverty seems to be a lack of luxury. More than one points out that Miss Hannigan’s apartment (she fosters kids to bring in money from the state in this version) is implied to be a dreadful place but is actually pretty comfortable, not to mention that a single woman struggling to make ends meet had an apartment large enough to foster children in (!), and that Annie and the other foster girls are all clean, well-fed, go to a decent school, and basically seem to like Miss Hannigan except when she makes them clean the apartment (not a large institutional building which, if you didn’t notice all the sewing machines and bolts of fabric in the 1982 film, is also a sweatshop - ha, you could update that to Miss Hannigan forcing the children to make crafts to sell on Etsy). What a hard-knock life.
The audience is expected to be all gee-whiz about the Stacks penthouse, but there’s nobody there but Stacks and Annie. In the older version, “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here” is a fun and endearing number because Annie is being welcomed by a large staff of enthusiastic servants who are delighted by the novelty of a guest who actually appreciates and enjoys the house and all it offers. People, not automated systems. No more “when you wake, ring for Drake, Drake will bring your tray.” (I always puzzled at the division of labour: “When you’re through, Mrs Pugh comes to take it away.” Has Drake gone on to do some other job, or is he just too good to take away dirty breakfast trays?)
Also, in a history report at said decent school, Annie summarises FDR’s New Deal as “work hard and get rich.” Oh, Annie. The Republicans got you, didn’t they? This must be why the film doesn’t include a chorus of “Tomorrow” sung with President and Mrs Obama.