Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we casta critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting themagainst each other across a variety of categories to determine which ismost deserving of your two hours. This week: Annie vs. Jersey Boys, two Broadway musical adaptations hoping to make the big bucks.
Musical theater enthusiasts, prepare yourselves: the latter half of 2014 is serving up some long-awaited film adaptations of Broadway musicals. After several years in the making, both Annie and Jersey Boys are finally coming to the big screen. This is the third film adaptation of Annie, preceded by the 1982 version with Albert Finney and Carol Burnett and the 1999 reboot with Victor Garber and Kathy Bates, which we seem to have missed. Set in modern-day New York City, 2014’s Annie stars Jamie Foxx as the Daddy Warbucks character, and Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) as Annie, who lives in an orphanage in Harlem. In this version, Daddy Warbucks is a politician up for reelection and, after a chance encounter with Annie, he begins spending time with her to benefit his campaign. Given the family-friendly spirit of the story, you can guess where things go from there. Jersey Boys, on the other hand, is a musical biography that tells the story of the 1960s rock group The Four Seasons. In a classic rags-to-riches tale, the four members started out on the wrong side of tracks in New Jersey and were eventually inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Before their eventual stardom, however, the quartet suffered through plenty of difficult days, when the group would play in venues run by the Mafia, get in too deep with the mob, and commit robberies to fund their music. The film breaks the fourth wall in the same way that show does, and the grit of New Jersey and the vintage 1960s setting create a rich backdrop for such a dramatic story.Advantage: Jersey Boys
DirectorWe feel bad for pitting Annie director Will Gluck (Easy A) against Jersey Boys director Clint Eastwood, so we’re going to include Annie producers Jay Z and Will Smith to even things out. That said, no matter how we spin it, Clint Eastwood is Clint Eastwood. Five Academy Awards and 11 nominations are no match for the likes of Magna Carta or Hitch (as much as we like both of those). An easy victory for Jersey Boys.Advantage: Jersey Boys
CastIn addition to Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhané Wallis, Annie boasts Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan, the evil and somewhat crazed orphanage director. Rose Byrne rounds out the supporting cast as Jamie Foxx’s personal assistant and eventual mother figure to Annie. Jersey Boys features mostly up-and-coming actors, with the exception of Christopher Walken as mob boss Gyp DeCarlo. One casting of note is Broadway actor John Lloyd Young, who reprises his Tony award-winning portrayal of lead singer Frankie Valli for the film. That being said, in terms of casting, Jersey Boys doesn’t have the same name draw that Annie does.Advantage: Annie
Broadway TiesWe couldn’t make this decision without factoring in each show’s legacy on the Great White Way. Annie opened in 1977 and won the Tony for Best Musical, and a third Broadway revival of the show just closed this past January. Jersey Boys doesn’t quite have the epically long Broadway legacy—yet. It opened in 2005, also winning the Tony for Best Musical, and it’s still running at the August Wilson Theatre. While we have no doubt that Jersey Boys will eventually become as much of a Broadway staple as Annie, in this face-off, Annie has an almost 30-year head start.Advantage: Annie
SoundtrackThe soundtrack of Annie might be more widely known these days (who can’t sing along to “It’s a Hard Knock Life”?), but the music Jersey Boys includes legendary songs of the ‘60s, like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Who Loves You,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.” We know what we’d rather have stuck in our heads all day.Advantage: Jersey Boys
VerdictAnnie looks heartwarming, the modern-day update is an interesting spin on an old story, and we have nothing but admiration for Quvenzhané Wallis. But Jersey Boys has a much meatier plot, the four actors playing the band members have an amazing blend of voices, and Clint Eastwood is at the helm. Need we say more? Winner: Jersey Boys