Kay Cannon’s new Cinderella movie challenges the antiquated trope of the usual fairytale storyline with strong messages of female empowerment and equality, however, it is somewhat forgettable as the overall silliness and pantomime feeling of the jukebox musical distracts from the inspiring message it strives to convey.
This latest Cinderella adaptation is an Amazon original available on Prime Video. It’s a modern musical version that challenges the idea of the classic fairytale storyline. The titular heroine (Camilla Cabello) is an ambitious dressmaker that preserves and navigates her way through many roadblocks, including her cruel stepmother (Idina Menzel) and the antiquated ideals of the time to not only find her true love, Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine), but also her voice and her place amongst the patriarchal kingdom.
Directed and written for the screen by Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect) this newest retelling of the popular Cinderella fairytale is a jukebox movie musical that sees Cinderella striving for success as a businesswoman, in place of the usual true love fairytale ending. The well-known parts of the famed story are all still present. The orphaned Cinderella working for her cruel Stepmother (Idina Menzel), the King and Queen (Pierce Brosnan and Minnie Driver), and their son Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine). However, this time, Cinderella (whose actual name is Ella), is an ambitious dress-maker who is determined to make it on her own as an independent businesswoman and has little to no interest in finding a man along the way. Prince Robert is the one yearning for true love, whilst Ella’s attentions are elsewhere. Robert is (of course) under the pressure of his parents so a ball shall be held to find the prince’s bride. Ella is reluctant, but eventually excited, to attend, wearing one of her own creations and aims to use the ball as a networking event rather than a way to find a future husband. This is where her Fabulous Godmother comes in (a refreshingly modern, genderqueer Billy Porter), who with a few wand waves and sassy punchlines produces one of Ella’s fantasy designs complete with uncomfortable glass shoes, her transport and the unnecessary transformation of her mice into three British comedian footmen (including James Corden who, as a producer of the film, had to fit himself in somehow right?).
The ball is an overall success, the lovers find each other, Ella makes a business connection and all is well until the magic runs out and it all comes crashing back down to reality. As expected, the usual ‘search for my true love’ is played out and they eventually find each other again. But in a ‘modern’ flip that can be seen coming from a mile away, the prince turns down the throne to be with Ella and travel the world as a successful dressmaker.
The twist on the usual fairy tale storyline is accompanied by modern musical interludes of well-known nostalgic songs and mashups including Queen, Salt n Pepa and Ed Sheeran, as well as modern dialogue. Most of these are adapted successfully, but I could’ve done without Minnie Driver’s version of ‘Let’s Get Loud’. Cabello portrays this personable and relatable version of Ella well in her film debut and Menzel is perfectly cast as a fierce Stepmother whose voice is faultless in covering a Madonna hit. Porter’s Fabulous Godmother is a bold addition but with only one scene throughout the film, it doesn’t completely achieve its intent.
This jukebox movie musical has a few too many ‘pantomime’ moments and the overall silliness of some of the dialogue and the acting choices creates a somewhat vapid and insipid story that distracts from the intended strong messages of female empowerment and equality. If the movie is about female empowerment and independence, does Ella really need to end up with the Prince in the end? It is a commendable attempt at a reworking of a classic fairytale but it ultimately doesn’t go as deep as it could have and it is all rather forgettable.
Overall, if you enjoyed Pitch Perfect and want something to watch with the kids you’ll enjoy the new Cinderella movie available now on Amazon Prime Video.