‘Cinderella’ (2021) Review

‘Cinderella’ is Camila Cabello’s acting debut and it is as bad as most expected it.

The film follows the mildly successful sex comedy film, ‘Blockers’, and the reputed ‘Pitch Perfect’ franchise, but is not the sharpest tool in director’s and screenwriter’s, Kay Cannon’s, shed. If it weren’t enough that just by reading the title, you’ve already predicted more than half of the film, by watching the trailer, you’ve seen it all.

The point of remaking Cinderella is to send a new message across while having at roots the original tale, which is indeed the premise of the film. That being said, since the story has been told, retold, repackaged, and resold, with about five feature-length remakes since the beginning of the millennia, it is definitely a hard task to undertake by a relatively new big-screen writer and director. 

There have been multiple modern adaptations of the classic tale that followed other famous young artists like Hillary Duff in ‘A Cinderella Story’ (2004) or Selena Gomez in ‘Another Cinderella Story’ (2009). Despite that, this version is the most forgettable one and it hasn’t even been long since its release.

Whenever Camila trips over in front of the royal family to show her clumsiness, pushing the ‘I’m not like the others’ narrative, she embodies perfectly how this flick underperformed. It didn’t try to get its messages across, it just plastered it over the audience’s retinas in the hope they would get the message, but it came off as a parody of all the precedent Cinderella adaptations.

‘A Cinderella Story’ (2004), ‘Cinderella’ (2021), ‘Another Cinderella Story’ (2009) 

Although the singer has not expressed her wish of playing Cinderella, like rapper Donald Glover whose dream was to play Spiderman and had a small part in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ (2017), the singer did write an unreleased song, Cinderella, which follows the same plot of the 2021 adaption: “Cinderella never asked for a prince”.  

Camila did showcase her potential to further grow as an actor, but unlike other fellow musicians turned actors, e.g. Harry Styles in ‘Dunkirk’ (2017), it felt to me as if I was watching Camila Cabello falling akin to Alice in Wonderland into a Cinderella universe while still being her 21st-century self. I was not watching ‘Ella’ teaching a kingdom that women can have different ambitions than marrying rich, but Camila establishing herself in an outdated society. Could be because of Cabello’s past parallel with the fairytale?

The starlet is portrayed as quirky and an underdog who wants to pave her way, but is still a hopeless romantic; that mirrors in striking detail Cabello’s public life. From being an insecure outcast in her high school who likes singing when nobody is home, to being offered the chance to participate on the X factor because it was her birthday despite the auditions being over, to winning through her quirkiness the hearts of the public whilst being in 5th Harmony, to finding real-life prince charming, Shawn Mendes, who even admitted in a Capital FM interview that “I think it would’ve been a bit too on the nose if I was Prince Charming”; Camila is literally the embodiment of a real-life Cinderella.

That being said, the actor who stole the spotlight was Idina Menzel. She was the only one who tried her best to outperform the poorly written script and carried the show performance-wise, yet, because of the portrayal of a vile character, we don’t end up rooting for her. Most of the time it’s hard to root for anyone since all characters are written stereotypically to fit the tale into a new socially constructed mold. Therefore, the Godfairy is a drag queen who loves fashion, the prince is pretty, popular, and has no substance, his sister is the feminist outcast reigning force, his dad is the great king who forgot how to live his life and his wife is the one with the good heart who tries to sway him into the right direction. 

Everybody got what they desired in the end with little to no struggle to get it. Cinderella’s only issues are that her so-called ‘wicked’ stepmother doesn’t want her to be disappointed if she follows her dreams and fails, thus sheltering her from such experiences, by trying to marry her rich and ruining her dress with ink. At no point in the movie did any of the characters experience any character development or hardships to overcome. The story felt bland from beginning to end.

Such an uneventful storyline is much more suited for TV series. The pace seemed rushed throughout as if you just came back from work and had only 5 minutes to explain what you did that day to your friend; because of that it rarely manages to get its points across. It seems like a parody to the Walt Disney Live-Action adaptation from 2015, following very similar, much cheaper imagery throughout leaving a contraband aftertaste of other live adaptations of the classic tale. 

As a Camila Cabello fan, I still didn’t enjoy the movie. Now imagine not being a Camila fan and not knowing her background, you’d not only end up disliking the movie but dismantling it completely. 

The film is a musical, and while there is no doubt that the cast can sing, the choice to have only covers with the exception of one original which is the only good song in the entire movie is questionable mostly due to poor song choice. Not to mention the greek chorus played by rappers of color seemed out of place and random whenever it had screentime. For that matter, this Cinderella adaptation seems like the perfect mixture between a family-friendly ‘Epic Movie’ and ‘Pitch Perfect’, which nobody ever asked for. 

Overall, the movie caters to families that want to unwind and have nothing better to watch since it’s too poorly executed to be a viable alternative to the original tale. Don’t get me wrong, I like Camila Cabello and that is the reason I watched the film in the first place, and if she’d ever act in something else I’d still tune in at least one last time, but this film didn’t scratch the surface of doing justice to the wildly popular original tale.

‘Cinderella’ streaming on Amazon Prime now. Watch the trailer here:

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