September 3rd, 2021
STARRING: CAMILA CABELLO, BILLY PORTER, IDINA MENZEL, NICHOLAS GALITZINE, PIERCE BROSNAN, MINNIE DRIVER
DIRECTED BY: KAY CANNON
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 1 STAR (Out of 4)
The west coast is on fire. The oceans are rising. There’s a raging pandemic, everyone hates each other, 13 military service members were killed in Afghanistan, detrimental misinformation and childish behaviour from adults about vaccines, and there’s a supply shortage everywhere. I’d say Kay Cannon’s version of Cinderella is arriving at the wrong time. Not just because it’s impossible to feel any kind of joy these days, but because this pop movie musical is a culmination of the dumb, unoriginal stuff that audiences are offered as entertainment today. There is plenty of content out there for people to consume, and there have already been dozens of installments of Cinderella, but here we go again, with pop singer Camila Cabello playing the title role, hoping to charm our shoes off with a “new” rags to riches fairy tale. As one could assume, based on the advertising, and my tone, this Cinderella is a plastic coated mess, with a collected cast of talented actors and singers, using poorly placed songs and poor lighting to create painful dreck that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. This Cinderella had me shouting Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo!
There’s almost no reason to explain the plot to you. It’s Cinderella. A young woman lives with her step-mother and sisters, is bossed around to cook and clean, is given a chance to attend a ball through the help of her fairy godmother, falls in love with the prince, loses her shoe, and he finds her to live happily ever after. This version is similar, but with modern tweeks. Cabello is a former member of the group Fifth Harmony, but instead of being able to focus on her actual singing ability, one of her major issues is her inability to synch up her lips with the songs. The songs in question are a mixture of pop music hits, from Madonna’s “Material Girl”, Queen’s “Somebody to Love”, and Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect”. The accompaniment of each song does nothing new, which makes the songs feel like glorified karaoke performances by less drunk people.
The rest of the cast surrounding Cabello is a more seasoned group of actors, with the wicked stepmother played by Idina Manzel, bringing her singing talent to a collection of songs that are below her vocal range. The new narrative twist is that Cinderella makes her own clothing designs and is not desperate for a prince to save her. She sneaks out of the house and bumps into a mystery man that turns out to be Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine). This Prince also isn’t the stereotypical fairy tale hero, because he doesn’t want to take the throne from his father King Rowan (Pierce Brosnan), but he does have hopes for true love, leaning on his queen mother (Minnie Driver) for advice. A ball is set for the Prince to find his queen, Cinderella is locked away at home, only to be saved by her Fab Godmother (Billy Porter bringing a much needed contagious energy), fitted with a new dress, glass slippers, and a trio of mice- led by an excruciating James Corden. She goes to the ball, has a night with the prince, and then must run home before the strike of midnight. No matter how fresh the script from Kay Cannon tries to be, it falls back into the standard trappings, and narrative beats, repeating the same story once again.
The most glaring issue with Cinderella has to be the lack of confidence from director Cannon. The Pitch Perfect writer attempts to inject her humor in between the music, but there’s rarely a line that isn’t forced comedy. And when the moments are focused on the music, Cannon hides everything with swooshing cinematography, glaring sunlight that makes characters visibility obsolete, and quick cut editing that will give audiences a panic attack. The only saving grace for the musical moments is that Cinderella has some fun group choreography that might make the experience less painful. That’s still not enough to make anything in Cinderella fun. Anything that In the Heights did to help revive the musical experience is instantly removed by the gaudy and overblown experience of everything Cinderella.
In short, this version of Cinderella is a giant mess; An abominable concoction of backlot sets, massive costumes that confuse big for beautiful, and check the boxes of inclusion instead of genuinely caring about the things they include. I can appreciate the efforts and attempts by Kay Cannon to bring a fresh style, trying to alleviate the stuffiness from the Disney live-action Cinderella, but all of that good will is a mistake. Somebody should have said something about the making of 2021’s Cinderella. This is like a bomb going off in a confetti factory, featuring actors with talent that would be better served in other movies, all in a product that is intended for nobody. Yes, things are pretty awful in the world right now, and now we have Cinderella to be a shining example of just how brutal it all has been.
CINDERELLA PREMIERES THIS FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 3RD ON AMAZON PRIME AND SELECT THEATERS
Written by: Leo Brady