“Cinderella” stars Camila Cabello, Billy Porter, Idina Menzel, Nicholas Galitzine, Minnie Driver, and Pierce Brosnan. Released on Amazon Prime Video on September 3, 2021, the film is about a woman who attends a prince’s ball.
The film was written and directed by Kay Cannon, who also directed “Blockers” and served as a producer and writer for the “Pitch Perfect” series. It is based on the fairy tale of the same name by Charles Perrault. It’s no surprise that if a source material is prevalent, they use a variety of media to retell it over and over again, whether it’s film, books, television, or video games. This film is no different. Six years after Disney brought “Cinderella” into live-action, Hollywood is once again revisiting the classic tale and making it into a modern jukebox musical. What fun. The film was initially set to premiere in theaters this year by Sony. However, the studio decided to sell it to Amazon Studios and stream it on Amazon Prime due to the pandemic. It managed to make it to a small number of local cinemas, but I decided to rely on Amazon Prime to watch it for the sake of my safety. While I’m not exactly thrilled to see another version of “Cinderella”, I was interested in seeing how Kay Cannon handles this classic love story regarding her directing and writing. After all, she did make the jukebox musical element energetic and fun in the “Pitch Perfect” films. So was this fairy tale worth retelling, or was it something that should just disappear like magic? Let’s find out.
The film tells the story of Cinderella (Cabello), a young woman who lives with her cruel stepmother Vivian (Menzel) and her two stepsisters, Malvolia (Maddie Baillio) and Narissa (Charlotte Spencer). She dreams of opening up a shop for her fashion skills in a patriarchal society. When she is invited to a ball held by King Rowan (Brosnan), the royal father of Prince Robert (Galitzine), Cinderella gets some extra help from her Fabulous Godmother (Porter) to attend the party and meet the prince. As expected, the film is the typical Cinderella story that we have known and loved for many years. The magic, the love story, the mean stepfamily, even the title character’s cuddly mice friends. Everything you remembered from the past iterations of “Cinderella” is present in Kay Cannon’s version. You might be thinking, “Oh, this is just another carbon copy of the story we’ve heard a thousand times. It can’t possibly be any different than the other versions.” I can honestly agree that it is another retelling of “Cinderella”, but it did offer a few upgrades to the traditional plot to make itself stand out more from the pack, such as the main character’s central motive and the jukebox songs. While the bold choices that Cannon made for the film may not impress everyone regarding her script, they helped make this latest version a fresh and upbeat musical that’s worth giving a chance. One of the few changes the film made was, again, the title character. Cinderella is more of a spunky and energetic young woman than someone who dreams of meeting a handsome prince. The movie showed that Cinderella doesn’t need a man to have a happy life. Instead, she wanted to start her career as a fashion designer in a society where men and women are assigned to their traditional roles. Sure, it served as a way to push female empowerment, but it’s also a satisfying approach to represent its messages about being yourself and living your own life. Once again, the screenplay didn’t precisely do these themes justice when it comes to its kid-friendly shlock. However, its charm and liveliness in the cast and musical numbers managed to keep the magic from fizzing out. Camila Cabello made her acting debut as the title character after impressing me with her hit singles as an artist. First off, I want to say that Cabello’s singing voice is simply fantastic, both in her songs and in the film, and I hope she continues to have a successful career as a singer. As for her performance as Cinderella, I have to admit that she didn’t do too bad. It’s far from memorable, but Cabello brought plenty of charisma and humor into a character who’s known for talking to mice and being greeted by a fairy. Idina Menzel was also solid in her role as Vivian, although this stepmother was a small step down from what Disney delivered in the other versions. Nicholas Galitzine made a good first impression as Robert, in my opinion. Not only was his performance decent, but he also had a remarkable singing voice to boot. Despite his small screen time, Billy Porter was the main highlight of the cast, mainly because of his optimistic attitude and distinctive take on the character. The musical numbers were pretty much in line with my expectations: fun, cheerful, and “karaoke-y”. The soundtrack consists of memorable hits from the pop and rock genres, including Queen’s “Somebody to Love” and Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect”, along with a couple of original songs, such as “Million to One” by Cabello (one of my favorite songs from the film). Seeing that Kay Cannon was no stranger to the toe-tapping and zestful vibe of the “Pitch Perfect” trilogy, it’s no surprise that that same vibe was present in “Cinderella”. Even though some of the music-filled scenes were nearly ruined by the film’s pacing and awkward editing, it’s hard for me not to be admired by the cast’s singing talents and the choreography.
Overall, Kay Cannon’s take on “Cinderella” is undoubtedly “Pitch Perfect” in fairy-tale form. While the plot isn’t without its predictability, it had enough uniqueness and glamour in its core to make it another watchable take on the classic love story. Despite its schlocky script and pacing issues, the film is a dazzling and charming treat for the whole family thanks to its decent cast, a lively soundtrack, Cannon’s direction, and relatable messages. It doesn’t hold a candle to Disney’s version of “Cinderella” or even the 1997 television movie with Whitney Houston. But it does have a few good moments that may make me want to revisit it in the future. If you’re familiar with the source material, this film is worth checking out on Amazon Prime.
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