Cinderella (2021) Review

Cinderella (2021)
After the death of her father, Ella (Camila Cabello) is left to live with her wicked stepmother (Idina Menzel) and bumbling stepsisters (Maddie Baillio, Charlotte Spencer), who don’t understand her dreams of becoming a dress designer. She’s on a mission to become her own woman —that is, until a handsome prince comes along…

by Ella Kemp |
Updated on
Release Date:

03 Sep 2021

Original Title:

Cinderella (2021)

“Have courage and be kind,” said Cinderella in Disney’s 1950 animated classic — a sweet, straightforward story about being a good person. Her mantra has echoed across decades as the world retells her story ad infinitum: in pantomimes, live-action dramas and subversive comedies. Kay Cannon’s latest version, a bombastic musical, trips at the first hurdle by going against that fundamental idea. Cinderella gave us simple instructions — and this new film unfortunately ruins that by overcomplicating everything.

Cinderella (2021)

Popstar Camila Cabello makes her acting debut with a shrill performance as our leading lady. She’s plucky and good-natured, but also so determined to prove this dusty old fairy tale can be appreciated in 2021 that despite a tremendous singing voice, any credibility gets lost in translation (there’s never any indication as to when the story’s set, but we’re given a whistle-stop tour of deafening karaoke belters including ‘Seven Nation Army’, ‘Let’s Get Loud’ and ‘Somebody To Love’). What she and the film more broadly fail to understand is that some things don’t need to be updated — a girl can be worth loving even if she isn’t magically transformed into a #girlboss.

It's disappointing from _Pitch Perfect_ writer Kay Cannon.

Ella dreams of making bespoke dresses and running her own business, which, apparently, means she cannot also enjoy old-fashioned things like going to balls or falling in love. That changes the second she spots a handsome stranger with a tiny earring (Nicholas Galitzine, as enigmatic as a lifeless pumpkin), and her one-note feminism hits a speed bump.

It’s disappointing from Pitch Perfect writer Cannon, who shares a “story by” credit with James Corden and offers none of her usual spark. Billy Porter is unsurprisingly entertaining, but his ‘Fab G’ — this film’s spin on the Fairy Godmother — relies on shallow empowerment slogans (“Yassss future queen,” he says, snapping his fingers as Cinderella smirks and twirls) instead of genuine magic. No number of momentous Idina Menzel showstoppers (including ‘Material Girl’, for some reason) can save a tone-deaf script. The film’s one and only deserved laugh comes when mouse-turned-footman James Acaster (in good company with Romesh Ranganathan and Corden as the three mouse-keteers) asks a crate-turned-horse what it’s like to be a crate. Cinderella is so stubborn about retooling a perfectly entrancing story (why would we keep retelling it, otherwise?) that it feels like it sets the fight for female independence back to the moment we first placed our faith in that unassuming, kind young woman — some 70 years ago.

Cinderella is given more independence, but at what cost? An irritating script ruins the sincere magic of the beloved story – strong music isn’t fabulous enough to preserve the DNA of a classic.
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