Cinderella (2021)

In Theatres: 
Sep 03, 2021
Running Time: 
113 minutes

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t familiar with the story of Cinderella, whether it’s the original fairy tale or the Disney animated film or any of the other live-action films Hollywood has produced over the decades. It’s now Pitch Perfect’s writer Kay Cannon to tackle the story but with a modern musical twist, keeping the classical castle setting but punching up the dialogue and using a variety of pop and rock songs from the past few decades to liven up the score. It’s during these choreographed dance numbers where Cinderella sparkles brightest, but it’s unfortunately not nearly enough to make up for the mediocre script.


Ella (Camila Cabello) has ambitions of designing dresses for the kingdom and opening her own shop, but the patriarchal rule in place currently forbids women from doing so, not to mention her stepmother Vivian (Idina Menzel) and stepsisters, Malvolia (Maddie Baillio) and Narissa (Charlotte Spencer), belittle and shun her at every opportunity. Despite all this, Ella puts on a brave face and continues to follow her passions, which end up putting her in front of the Prince (Nicholas Galitzine) outside the castle disguised as a commoner. The Prince ends up liking Ella and her dress, putting her one step closer to making her dream a reality. But could she really thrive in a world that has been constantly pushing her down? She’s about to find out.


Cinderella excels when the characters are singing and dancing their feelings rather than just speaking them. The soundtrack is full of classic hits like Queen’s "Somebody to Love,” and Madona’s "Material Girl,” along with more modern songs like Ed Sheeren’s “Perfect.” There are also a handful of original songs made for the film, and with singers Cabello and Menzel leading the cast, they all sound rather good. They’re also extremely relevant to the scene when they’re sung. "Whatta Man” is sung by a group of women at the ball who hope of being picked by the prince, for instance. It’s a little too on the nose, but it works.


Unfortunately that’s about the only thing that works for the film. The dialogue is all over the place as it tries to be hit and cool with today’s younger generation but ends up being cringy the majority of the time. The story has been updated and modernized a little bit, as Ella strives to be her own independent woman who doesn’t need a man to validate her, but it also follows the same major beats of the original fairy tale so it makes a lot of the changes feel pointless when it all comes to the same conclusion. Everything just comes to a screeching halt when they’re not singing or dancing.


Cinderella has a great soundtrack that’s worth listening to, but the film itself is barely worth watching as the acting and dialogue can be a struggle to get through. It’s harmony for your ears, but blinding to your eyes. You’re better off watching one of the many other Cinderella adaptations out there.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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