“I have to make a life for myself. I’ll sell one of my signature dresses; soon everyone’ll know my name.”
The various iterations that come from the Grimm Brothers’ story tale, Cinderella, ceases to know no bounds when it comes to Hollywood’s obvious cash grab. One after another, the quality becomes less and less. This recent adaptation of the little cinder girl is none too pretty, and by far the worst of any adaptation I’ve seen.
In this musical retelling we have Camila Cabello playing the famous Cinderella. A young woman with a decent voice and a Latina at that, which is a plus in my opinion. This time around, she has a dream, a one in a million dream, to one day own her own her own shop where she may dress the good people of the village in beautiful gowns. However, it’s turning out to be harder than she thought. Of course, in accordance with the tale, she has her “evil” stepmother (Idina Menzel) and stepsisters who keep her locked away in a basement. The infamous abuse that comes from Cinderella’s new family is unbelievably absent. There are hardly any scenes of toxicity and for someone who is forced to live such a hard life, her stepmother has provided her with an awfully large room and tools to help Cinderella achieve her dream. And even if the stepmother hasn’t outright provided such tools, she makes no effort to remove such dream paraphernalia off Cinderella’s littered walls. Of course, and in probably the sappiest way possible, she meets her prince, and like clockwork he must find a bride that will become the future queen. He has no intentions to marry until he sets eyes on her. You know the story. Fairy godmother, ball, glass slipper, fall in love. The usual.
Writer and director Kay Cannon seems to have gotten her inspiration from recent Lin Manuel Miranda musicals in an effort to put a modern day musical twist on a classic tale. This version is not only watered down from any of its predecessors, but there’s hardly any of the real contents left and only water left to consume. A few of the key elements are left in for familiarity, but most are thrown out the window in search for what I’m guessing was a more “creative” approach to the story, which turned out badly.
As I said earlier, Cinderella’s origin story of sorts heavily glosses over the abusive family atmosphere that she suffers. The lack of family in her life makes you root for her. And getting out from beneath that heavy heel, makes you root for her even more! Yet, this version, a lot of that is missing. I would also say that none of the Cinderellas — at least the more recent ones — were completely timid and naïve. There was always a confidence to them, but there was also vulnerability. During the scene when she’s about to set off for the ball, there is no fear or nervousness in this Cinderella. The underdog quality about her has vanished as she has this “I got this” quality about her. The story alone has been altered so many times to create a modern Cinderella that now the key components of the original story don’t quite make sense anymore. This makes the story convoluted, leaving the audience to possibly leave scratching their heads in bewilderment.
The troublesome story is in addition to the poorly sung and adapted music throughout the film. From the odd choices of Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation,” Madonna’s “Material Girl,” or The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army,” the music is one smorgasbord of modern music that never makes sense within the confines of a Cinderella movie.
I would say it was James Corden’s ill-advised marketing scheme flash mob, and his infamous rat hip thrusting, that gave this film a poor reception, but Cinderella has no one to blame but itself. There are no redeeming qualities about Cinderella. The acting is terrible, the singing is bland, and the story is atrocious. It wanted to pride itself on being different — a more independent version of the character. But in doing so, our heroine was so far from the original that everything feels out of place. By the time I was 20 minutes in, I wanted the film to be over. For a story that has so many other adaptations, go watch any one of those besides this one. Even if it’s not the best, you’ll feel better about what you spent your time watching.
Written and Directed by: Kay Cannon
Starring: Camila Cabello, Nicholas Galitzine, Pierce Brosnan, Minnie Driver, Billy Porter, James Corden, and Idina Menzel