Our Take: 2 Stars
“Cinderella” is a timeless tale that transcends generations. It also has been the culprit of many remakes, some of which are excellent movies while others don’t quite hit the mark. One prime example of this is the new “Cinderella,” starring Camila Cabello, which was just released on Sept. 3 on Amazon Prime. The original Cinderella has lots of good character tropes and a stable theme that can entertain both children and adults. This version feels like a series of TikTok references and a lot of overused Gen-Z commentary throughout the film.
The music throughout the film consists of a lot of covers of original songs that don’t really flow as well as intended, but the constant bursts of rhythmic music are still an improvement on the cheesy script. The movie packs on a star-studded cast with many household names — Idina Menzel (“Frozen”) and Billy Porter (“Like A Boss”) reunite as Broadway legends, and both impress with their voices
The essence of “Cinderella” is one we’re all familiar with: a mistreated but pure young girl gets the makeover of her dreams and ends up with the prince of her dreams. In this rendition of the fairytale, there are moments throughout the film where the traditional story shines through, but for the majority of the film it is overpowered by pop song covers and TikTok quotes.
This movie focuses on how Cinderella, played by Camilla Cabello, has big aspirations of being a fashion designer and financially supporting herself to move out of her stepmother’s basement. The film also humanizes the stepmother, played by Idina Menzel, as it explains her cruelty based on the hardships she experienced growing up in a time where women were not respected. The mean girl element of the two stepsisters is also toned down significantly as they are duller characters who don’t impact Cinderella as much as they do in the original film.
The movie tries its best to be inclusive and the introduction begins with everyone singing a rendition of Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation,” which doesn’t entirely play into the 18th century life of the townspeople getting ready for their day. The film also overcompensates with the girlboss narrative that Cinderella upholds and how her independence and aspirations are what fuel her instead of the idea of having true love and settling down with the Prince. While the film is meant to emphasize the importance of equality amongst men and women, it does so in such a way that the characters around Cinderella have little character development.
The star-studded cast all have one main character quality that they try to portray even if it is in the smallest doses. The king (Pierce Brosnan, “Mamma Mia”) is dictatorial; the queen (Minnie Driver, “Ella Enchanted”) is silenced and frustrated by the King; the princess (Tallulah Grieve, “Our Ladies”) is a political encyclopedia who wants to create effective change; and Porter’s fairy god-person is flamboyant. The town crier (Doc Brown, “Miranda”) raps all of the information being given to the town. Prince Robert is played by budding new actor Nicholas Galitzine (“High Strung”), who does a great job portraying a brooding man who is slightly obsessed with Cinderella.
Prince Robert, like Cinderella, has to find himself and decide what he wants to do with his future. When Cinderella and Prince Robert meet, they help each other realize that they are constrained in lives that they know they should not be living, so they inspire one another to follow their dreams and take agency of their lives.
Although “Cinderella” is awkward and the songs don’t always flow, the overall theme and message about feminism and the importance of gender equality still comes through. The uneven tone of the film can distract from appealing performances by the talented cast members in creative, energetic musical numbers. This retelling of Cinderella needs a bit of toning down that the fabulous god-person could potentially grant in a make-under.