Yet another Cinderella story

The 2021 film, ‘Cinderella,’ joins a long history of adaptations of the same name

David Matos, Associate Arts & Life Editor

The inevitable progressive take on the classic fairytale “Cinderella” shows that a film made to fix the flaws of the glass-slipper-wearing servant is not free from criticism.

Billy Porter played ‘Fab G’, a genderless fairy godmother, in the 2021 adaptation of ‘Cinderella.’

The musical is written and directed by Kay Cannon, who is best known for producing and writing the “Pitch Perfect” series. It stars Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello in her acting debut, alongside Billy Porter, Nicholas Galitzine, Minnie Driver, Idina Menzel, Pierce Brosnan, and James Corden.

The adaptation loosely references the original characters and plot. It takes a more modern approach to remedy criticism from angered parents who banned the story from their homes due to the lack of a goal-driven female character.

“Cinderella,” released on Amazon Prime Video on Sept. 3, was perfectly imperfect in every way. I refuse to write it off as a “bad” movie due to its occasional fun moments, a strong diverse cast and a unique message and twists. However, many of the other choices made seemed more forced and amateur rather than clever and innovative, which makes it extremely hard for me to classify it as a “good” movie either.

One of the most painful attributes of the movie is the inclusion of the covers of popular songs from decades prior. Since the songs were not made with the film in mind, they seemed out of place and loosely connected with the ongoing plot. I also imagine children being very frazzled with this as many of the songs are outdated enough that only parents or grandparents can appreciate them. Needless to say, it’s jarring seeing people in sad attempts of historically accurate clothing singing and dancing to songs popular 10 to 40 years ago. It’s much like a glorified Todrick Hall music video with slightly worse visual effects.

Despite its star-studded cast, the acting was quite lousy. Though not entirely the fault of the actors, as much of the script was laughably unrealistic, the acting simply was not believable across the board. The evil stepsisters, played by Maddie Baillio and Charlotte Spencer, and Cinderella’s evil stepmother, played by Menzel, were strangely very nice to Cinderella in this adaptation. They rarely give the titular character a hard time which makes it difficult to root for Cinderella to escape her current situation.

Cinderella is also always dressed in seemingly normal clothing with no visible wear and tear and had well-kept hair and makeup. The orphaned servant also had a nice-sized room with seemingly unlimited access to materials to support her passion for dressmaking. Since she lives a very normal lifestyle with what appears to be a friendly stepmother and stepsisters, all empathy for the protagonist was lost.

The lack of chemistry between the prince, played by Galitzine, and Cinderella, played by Cabello, was also a major flaw. Their mutual decision to take things a bit slow was refreshing, but I would often forget they were supposed to be in love until I’m bluntly reminded by a line of dialogue. They appear to be more like good friends than lovers. I wish they committed to being buddies as their partnership is surprisingly not very relevant to the story.

The best part of the whole movie is when Cinderella’s fairy godmother, played by Porter, begins his scene. Porter arrives at Cinderella’s rescue in an orange and gold over-the-top outfit bringing the magical and upbeat character to life. He easily brings a new bright and fun energy to the film the moment he appears on screen. Even Cabello seems to be at her best in this scene as her lines are suddenly spoken more naturally, and she appears to be having a good time with her co-star. Porter and Cabello’s singing voices undoubtedly go great together to top things off. This scene alone is worth your time, though I wish the scene lasted a bit longer as it felt a bit rushed.

Though the film has many drawbacks, it is worth seeing if you’re a fan of any previous adaptation of “Cinderella” as it is unlike any other that shares its title. However, it, unfortunately, did not live up to the hype, and I was left partly disappointed. I can appreciate the more independent version of Cinderella, but the film didn’t do a good job at having us feel particularly bad for the character. The lack of original music was the worst choice of all and prevented the movie from being what it could’ve been: a great film.

2/5 Glass slippers.

Illustration by Connor Lawless