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Davis Journal

The Movie Guru: ‘Cinderella’ is fun but forgettable

Sep 13, 2021 01:26PM ● By Jenniffer Wardell

The new “Cinderella” is entertaining, but boy is it a mess.

The movie, which is currently available on Amazon Prime, feels like someone put the fairy tale into a blender with a “Best of Buzzfeed” article and a Spotify playlist. The result is an absolute hodgepodge of half-executed ideas, only some of which were worth having in the first place. The good moments sparkle, and the soundtrack is always catchy, but there’s too much that tips over into just being dumb.

The movie is one of those musicals that mostly uses pop songs instead of original music, occasionally completely mangling the pop song in the process. Sometimes this means misusing the song – Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation,” for example, somehow becomes an ode to small-town conformity. Sometimes this means giving it to a mediocre singer, which is particularly tragic when you do it to a queen song.

That dovetails with the fact that it considers itself a more “modernized” version of the story. The updates are haphazard, ranging from the use of slang terms to Cinderella dreaming of a career instead of a man, and sometimes feel as though they’ve been stuck on with duct tape. The look of the movie is much more unified, fantasy chic run through a convenient fashion filter.

Unfortunately, some parts of the modernization are more successful than others. The plot changes are usually at least somewhat interesting, though they fall apart if you think about them too hard, but the slang is completely ridiculous and already outdated. There are also some that are tragically ignored, including a forward-thinking younger sister for the prince. She served mostly as a plot device, but she could have been so much more.

The best addition to the story, however, is that the main characters are actually allowed to be funny. As Cinderella, Camilla Cabello actually has several entertaining moments, made more so by the fact that she has surprisingly decent comic timing. She's also willing to look goofy, which is important for any comic actress. Yes, her biggest talents still lie in singing, but it won’t be the end of the world if she decides to do more acting.

The rest of the cast is more of a mixed bag. Idina Menzel is a cinematic treasure, but the movie wastes her as a wicked stepmother that’s neither wicked nor relatable enough to be interesting. Pierce Brosnan and Minnie Driver elevate their small roles as king and queen, but they’re not given nearly enough screen time. Billy Porter is fun as the Fabulous Godmother, but Nicholas Galitzine is merely OK as the prince.

The result is a spectacle that’s as bouncy as a pop song, but will disappear out of your memory just as fast.

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Utah Film Critics Association. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at [email protected]  

Credit for photo ©Columbia

Cinderella

Rated PG for suggestive material and language

Written for the screen and directed by Kay Cannon

Starring Camila Cabello, Nicholas Galitzine, Idina Menzel, Pierce Brosnan, Minnie Driver, Tallulah Greive, Billy Porter, and more

Grade: Two stars