Tomorrow has finally arrived, and it has brought with it the trailer for the upcoming Annie remake, starring Quvenzhané Wallis as the titular orphan and a supporting cast that includes Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan and Jamie Foxx as the modern-day Daddy Warbucks, Will Stacks. In this version of the classic story, Wallis' Annie lives with her evil foster caretaker (Diaz) and several other over-worked, unappreciated girls in Harlem before she is plucked out of her apartment by the billionaire mogul Stacks, who is running for mayor and looking for an attention-grabbing photo opp. After she moves into his penthouse apartment, the two grow closer and both of them find the family they've been searching for.
Of course, any time a beloved classic is remade or updated, people are bound to be apprehensive. But no matter how you feel about the score getting a vaguely hip-hop remix or Diaz chewing the scenery as the obnoxious Miss Hannigan, Annie fans can take comfort in the fact that the trailer shows the new film featuring an important staple of musical cinema. We are instead referring to the scenes of Wallis and the rest of the cast dancing around the rooftops of New York City, which has long been a feature of films, movies and musicals.
In honor of the new Annie trailer, we've decided to salute Wallis and her castmates for their bravery and and well-executed choreography with a list of ten great rooftop dance sequences from film and television. Although please, don't actually try this home. We really don't want to be responsible for inspiring a wave of severe injuries just for the sake of a light-hearted dance routine. We're including clips, just live vicariously through them.
Empire Records After you've damned the man and saved the Empire, what better way to celebrate than with a rooftop dance party? Joe owns the store now, everyone's forgotten about Lucas stealing the money, Warren has a job, Corey and AJ are officially together, Gina and Deb are finally getting along and Mark... well, he's Mark, so everyone gets to spin around the roof in the glow of the newly-fixed sign. If you're looking for a way to celebrate Rex Manning Day, this is it.
10 Things I Hate About You If we've learned anything from the teen movies of the '90s, it's that a story has never properly ended until someone gives a rooftop performance while the credits roll, and 10 Things I Hate About You wrapped up the love story of Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles by having Letters to Cleo perform a Cheap Trick cover on what appeared to be the tallest castle spire in all the land. And lest you worry that this scene doesn't fit the "dancing" criteria of this list, we'd like to remind you of the two guys in this band whose sole purpose it is to arm-dance behind the lead singer. Don't shatter their dreams.
The Princess and the FrogTeen movies aren't the only ones that like to wrap up a story with some well-lit, rooftop dancing; Disney has fallen victim to the same urge, and The Princess and the Frog ends with Tiana and Naveen dancing a giddy Charleston in the skyline over New Orleans at sunset. You know how people say that Disney films have given them unrealistic expectations about love and life? This scene is one of the reasons why.
West Side Story Yes, the main character of this film is technically sweet, innocent Maria, but everyone knows the real star was Anita, who was played to perfection by Rita Moreno. The scene that established her dominance over the movie musical genre is the rooftop-set dance off "America." She gets all the best lines, all the best dance moves, and once she starts sassing the boys and twirling her skirt, it's impossible to care about Tony and Maria's sappy romance anymore. If you watch carefully, you can pinpoint the exact high kick that earned Moreno that Oscar.
Friends, "The One With the Ballroom Dancing" In order to keep the superintendent, Mr. Traeger, from evicting Rachel and Monica, Joey sucks up to him by helping him learn how to dance for "The Super Ball," which culminates in a tender, beautifully choreographed dance sequence between the two on the roof of the building. Who knew Joey was so smooth?
Mary Poppins When you think "dancing on the roof," it's almost impossible not to think about the chimney sweeps tap dancing and high kicking around the roofs of London. Thanks to the repetitive lyrics, everyone can learn to do this dance (once you figure out what Dick Van Dyke is saying through that terrible accent), and everyone did when they were little, stomping and twirling their way around the living room along with all of the chimney sweeps. And if you were really adventurous, you probably threw in some couch-hopping as well.
Clerks IINo matter how foul-mouthed your characters are, there's always an opportunity to work in a romantic rooftop dancing scene, and so Kevin Smith managed to work on into Clerks II with Becky attempting to teach Dante how to dance to "ABC" by the Jackson 5. Unlike the rest of the films on this list, this one turns into an all-out, elaborate dance party, but it all started with Rosario Dawson shimmying around the roof.
High School Musical 3 Sometimes the rooftop dance sequence is important to the plot, sometimes it's a fun moment of celebration, and sometimes it's just there to look pretty, which is the case with Troy and Gabriella's number in High School Musical 3. Theoretically, it's part of Troy asking her to the prom, but mostly it's just in there because Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens hadn't sung a touching ballad to each other since the pervious movie. However, we do give director Kenny Ortega bonus points for managing to work in a second rom-com staple: dancing in the rain.
Victorious, Multiple Episodes What can we say? Tween movies and television shows love to feature people dancing on top of roofs. No show made more use of this trope than Victorious, where seemingly every performance took place on the school's roof, including a prom number featuring Victoria Justice and a pre-pop stardom Ariana Grande singing a song about having a crush on your best friend's older brother. Again, bonus points to Dan Schneider for managing to work a thunderstorm into this performance, which surprisingly doesn't concern the kid playing the electric guitar at all.
Moulin Rouge In a film that featured characters singing, dancing and falling in love all over Paris, it's no surprise that the biggest, most romantic moment occurred on a rooftop that was covered in flowers, fairy lights, and a giant windmill that was often utilized for dramatic moments. We are, of course, referring to the "Elephant Love Medley," which is less formally known as the moment that everyone fell head over heels in love with Ewan McGregor. Forget "Come What May," this is the dance sequence that teenage girls the world over dream about.
Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
Let's hear it for the old guy who in this movie comes off sexier than his buff young accomplice (Dermot Mulroney). OK the old guy happens to be the gracefully aging icon Paul Newman -- as a feisty heistmeister who dodges a long prison sentence and then teams up with his equally conniving rest-home nurse (Linda Fiorentino) on a bank job gone wrong. "Where the Money Is" is breezy suspenseful and as much a love story as anything else -- if you call mentoring a new life in crime a kind of love. The mission-improbable caper is no more or less entertaining than a "Rockford Files" rerun but the film's swerving joyride takes its real thrills from the great escape that Fiorentino's Bonnie Parker makes from a dead-end life in the married lane.
Newman still hasn't lost it and as Henry Manning he doesn't miss any nuances in the edgy balance between streetwise wariness and amiable rapport with his sultry new colleague. The steam-powered Fiorentino has forged her career by making danger look casual and this is her most alluring work since "The Last Seduction" added another zero to her salary. Her chemistry with Newman a flirty twist on the idea of honor among thieves is really what makes this movie worth seeing. Mulroney is serviceable as the dim but lovable hubby a supporting role that's more foil than fully etched character.
We can all thank director Marek Kanievska for deciding not to have the May-December duo end up in the sack and leaving them simply professional cohorts. The director's admirable sense of comic timing works all the better by not letting the laughs get in the way of his leads' exploration of their characters -- although there's no denying the limits of this frothy genre. Perhaps Kanievska's greatest feat here is allowing Newman to retain his dignity in close-up.