Smart women and show-stopping songs make this updated version of the classic story fun.
Yeah, yeah, we all know the story. Ella is treated like the maid by her wicked stepmother and stepsisters, who call her Cinderella. Her fairy godmother gives her a dress and carriage for the ball. She falls in love with the prince. She leaves her glass slippers behind. He finds her, and they both live happily every after. In the Grimm Brothers’ version, the stepsisters had to cut off parts of their feet in order to slip into them, but I think we can agree the Disney versions are better than any dark version (I know “Into the Woods” was by Disney, but still).
Anyway. The new version of “Cinderella,” released by Amazon Prime and Sony Pictures, is given an updated beat in the style of “The Greatest Showman.” It even presents hit songs (from Queen’s “Somebody to Love” to Earth Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star” to Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud”) in its own light. Leave it to writer/director Kay Cannon (“Pitch Perfect,” “Blockers”) to bend the rules a bit.
This Ella (Camila Cabello) doesn’t care about having a Prince Charming. She wants to start her own line of dresses. Yes, she has to take crap from her stepmother Vivian (Idina Menzel), who wants to marry her off for money, but unlike the many versions, she’s more wisecracking and strong-willed.
This Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) is no male chauvinist pig or a spoiled brat. He’s a party animal who wants to be happy, and doesn’t want to marry. That’s when his father-the King (Pierce Brosnan)-hosts the fabulous ball, and invites all the beautiful women to it. The Prince agrees if his father invites everyone, regardless of beauty or wealth. And when he does meet Ella in rags and not riches, he invites her to the ball to meet up with people who can endorse her dream shop. There’s your proof he’s not a sexist.
There’s also Robert’s little sister Gwen (Tallulah Greive), who is tired of her father’s sexist ways towards women. She wants to be treated equally, and she wants to help those in need. Even their mother (Minnie Driver) dislikes her husband’s perspectives.
And what wouldn’t be a modern “Cinderella” story without a male Fairy Godmother? Here in the form of Billy Porter, who is both stylish and hilarious with his verbal and physical gimmicks. Man, sometimes I love the new generation.
Sure, not all the cover songs are involving and there are some silly effects, but there are still some catchy and show stopping beats, and lots of hilarious moments. This version gives the classic story more sense. These women are not stupid, meek, or pieces of meat. They’re smart, ambitious, and courageous, and Cannon writes them with style and charisma.
Cabello makes her acting debut by giving the title character a mind and sassy attitude, while Galitzine has his age and spirit as her Prince. I’ve already displayed how Porter kills me as there Fairy Godmother. Menzel is also charismatic as the stepmother. Brosnan plays it quite well as the King, who believes in the rules of royalty than how things are in the 2020s. That is if the story did take place in the 2020s. And you also get some comical work from James Corden, Romesh Ranganathan, and James Acaster as the three talking mice, who have fun being human footmen.
I liked this “Cinderella” for its high spirits, comedy, and respect for women. And when the Prince searches for his love, I’m glad he knows what she looks like.
In Select Theaters and Streaming on Amazon Prime