Reviewed by Adam Donato
From Kay Cannon, director of Blockers, comes yet another adaptation of the classic fairytale known as Cinderella. Pop sensation Camila Cabello stars as the title character surrounded by an all-star cast. Fun fact, not only is James Corden in the movie, but he also produced it. A movie with this hurricane of ingredients is a prime candidate to skip out on theaters and go straight to streaming, where nobody can see how much money the movie lost. Is this movie just as cringey as the viral video of the cast dancing in the streets or will this adaptation fit into the glass slipper?
Surprise, it’s terrible. There’s so much going on here it’s almost difficult to decide where to start. Was this advertised as a jukebox musical? The official trailer has a chorus singing “Somebody to Love”, but the main song from the trailer is "Million To One", which is an original song. Regardless, this was a terrible decision. The best musical aspects of the movie are in fact the original songs. Every time they do a cover of some random pop song it’s almost reminiscent of Suicide Squad and how they just threw in songs to literally explain what’s going on. There’s also no theme to the songs they chose and they didn’t do anything with them to make them feel different enough to validate their existence. It’s like the worst version of Moulin Rouge. If you’re making a musical and the music is bad, oof.
When adapting a story that has been done to death, especially in the last decade, you got to make it feel fresh. In this version, Cinderella’s aspiration is to be a dressmaker. It’s almost maddening knowing that there will be two different extreme reactions to this motivation. The anti-woke community will be upset at the desperate attempt to make Cabello’s character into a girl boss. The polar opposite community will be mad that a character, who is essentially a slave forced to work by her evil stepmother, now has the goal of working. It really isn’t that deep. Don’t give the filmmakers any sort of credit in either direction. They just wanted their Cinderella to be a quirky, cool girl who cares more about her career than her love life. This would work better if she didn’t declare her love for a man she literally just met the day before. The biggest princess movie of the century, Frozen, is all about how that trope is stupid, but this isn’t a Disney movie. Or is it?
It’s not, but if the cover songs were changed to original songs and the Disney castle showed up before the movie started, then most audiences would not be able to notice the difference. It’s funny because Disney just reimagined Cinderella in live action just six years ago. The only memorable thing about that movie is Cate Blanchett as the evil stepmother. Both have no purpose in being made. Obviously, the Disney version is generally better, but at least this new version was trying to do something different. That being said, comparing this film to Disney is too much of a compliment as it feels much more like when they performed Grease live on television with Vanessa Hudgens.
The characters are interesting, to say the least. The first piece of trivia about this movie on IMDb is that this is Cabello’s first movie. The performance speaks for itself in that regard. She’s a good singer, but every time she tries to make a joke or speak in general, it doesn’t really work out. Corden is the worst part of the movie, just like he is in every movie he has ever been in. One of the scariest moments put to film involves him. Most other people were actually alright. Pierce Brosnan feels similar to his role in Mamma Mia!, but at least this movie has the decency to make fun of his attempts to sing. Billy Porter didn’t land all of his jokes but deserved to have a bigger role in the movie than the one scene he had. It’s always nice to see Idina Menzel doing musical things. The kid who played the prince, Nicholas Galitzine, and his sister, Tallulah Greive, both had their moments.
Cinderella is going to get a lot of hate, and it’s mostly deserved. It’s so unnecessary and obnoxious. Expect to see this movie on cinephiles' worst movies of the year list. Fans of Cabello would probably be entertained. At the very least, there was an attempt here to do something that felt different, which should be appreciated, even though it is bad.
Cinderella hits Amazon Prime on September 3.