I feel like the mean stepmother saying this but I think it’s time for the clock to strike midnight on Cinderella movie adaptations.
There’s no doubt Kay Cannon’s new version for Amazon Prime is well-intentioned. I’m sure there are plenty of young girls who will love seeing pop princess, Camila Cabello, in the title role and I’m all for the modern, female empowerment messages.
But this musical comedy is a mash-up of songs and styles and snark – and it’s not pitch perfect. Or Pitch Perfect. In its attempt to bring the traditional story into the 21st century, it feels like the filmmakers made a list of elements that would be considered “cool” – Hamilton-like raps, Billy Porter as “the Fab G,” (aka Fairy Godmother), Idina Menzel to recreate her Frozen magic – and threw them together in a way that just comes across as stilted and sometimes cringey. They even enlisted Pierce Brosnan to play the king, and he’s as awkward here as he was in Mamma Mia! (But, hey, that movie grossed almost $603 million worldwide so kudos to Cannon and company if they’re laughing at this review all the way to the bank.)
This isn’t to say there’s nothing good about this Cinderella. Cabello is an appealing lead and a strong role model, and Princess Gwen (Tallulah Greive) is a welcome character who should have her own movie.
Let’s face it, the Cinderella story is eye-rollingly outdated. After all, the original Disney movie was released more than 70 years ago. But this adaptation feels like a by-the-book modernization: “Give her a goal of becoming a fashion designer? Check. Add some diversity? Check.” It feels like the movie is winking at you, like it’s saying, “See? Look what we did there!”
The same goes for the soundtrack, which includes classics like Material Girl, Somebody to Love and Perfect. They’re already such iconic songs on their own, they don’t exactly scream Cinderella. If one of them had been snuck into a scene in an unexpected and creative way, that could have been exciting and an effective bridge. But do we really need to hear Let’s Get Loud or Rhythm Nation sung by Cinderella and company?
Instead, why can’t someone actually create a new story? Remove the narrative of the wicked stepmother altogether, give the main character aspirations of a less predictable career and stay away from royalty – we are already bombarded with every detail of William, Kate, Harry and Meghan’s lives.
Let’s continue to tell the stories of real, everyday girls who rise above their circumstances. There are plenty to tell. And let’s forget about fitting into the glass slipper and focus on smashing the glass ceiling. That’s the real stuff of fairy tales.