There are many ways one can describe director Kay Cannon’s Cinderella, but perhaps it’s best described as an extended version of the most middling Glee episodes. The newly released Amazon original is a loud movie, and rarely are there more than two seconds between bits of dialogue, to the point one might worry about the performer’s oxygen levels. When the actors lip sync, their jaws open so wide you could drive your fist inside.
This is the same ol’ fairytale that, minus any spectacle and mostly stuffed with Gen Z twists: Ella (Camila Cabello) has a dream is to be a girl-power capitalist in a stuffy-traditionalist kingdom that kinda-sorta subjugates women (they only talk about it). Ella starts off as talented, sure of herself and beautiful, and then there’s not anywhere for her to go other than predestined plot beats—she’s the best she can be from the get-go. Cabello’s performance is confident, so confident you’ll question why she doesn’t just jump out the window and go live with forest rats.
Nevertheless, Cinderella’s main purpose is to surprise audiences with whatever pop song comes next, jumping from Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” to some dull Ed Sheeren number and an inexplicably horrid finale featuring Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud.” Its better moments are when Cabello is off-screen—the veteran performers (namely Pierce Brosnan and Minnie Driver) offer some life-support, but you can’t escape the bland. The bland suffocates.
The tale of Cinderella is about kindness in the face of oppression, and how we long for a world wherein kindness is rewarded and wickedness punished so long as the good hold out. None of that is here. Instead find a film hyper obsessed with being cool, like giving sophomore theater students at the local high school a few million dollars and telling them to go crazy.
Is Cinderella the cinematic blight the internet was so certain was coming? No, but even the most mundane versions have done it a lot better.
+ Mediocre, but survivable
- Bad direction; bad song choices; James Cordon
Directed by Cannon
With Cabello, Nicholas Galitzine and Idina Menzel
Amazon Prime, PG, 113 min