Friday, September 3, 2021

Cinderella (2021)


Streaming Services: Amazon Prime
Movie Name/Year: Cinderella (2021)
Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Musical
Length: 113 minutes
Rating: PG
Production/Distribution: Columbia Pictures, DMG Entertainment, Fulwell 73, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Amazon Prime Video, Sony Pictures Releasing, Amazon Studios
Director: Kay Cannon
Writer: Kay Cannon
Actors: Billy Porter, Camila Cabello, Nicholas Galitzine, Charlotte Spencer, Idina Menzel, Minnie Driver, Pierce Brosnan, Tallulah Grieve, James Corden, John Mulaney, Maddie Baillio, Romesh Ranganathan, Ben Smith, Luke Latchman, Jenet Le Lacheur, Fra Fee
Blurb from IMDb:  A modern movie musical with a bold take on the classic fairy tale. Our ambitious heroine has big dreams and with the help of her fab Godmother, she perseveres to make them come true.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’m actually a bit angry with most of the reviewers of Cinderella thus far. One imagines the professional critics would be a bit harsh, but there are some serious haters out there that are already being very vocal. It’s sad, really.
Amazon Prime’s Cinderella adaptation is not trying to sell an agenda. It’s not propaganda being force-fed to anyone. There are bright costumes, lots of songs and dances, and also a positive message. Are the bad reviews because the viewer is simply so misogynistic that they can’t see beyond their own prejudices?

I do understand, however, those that might be a bit disappointed if they were expecting a cut and paste from the Disney classic into live-action. That movie has already happened. This Cinderella is something new. It was never meant to be exactly what the others that have come before have presented. There have been other adaptations in the past that have bucked convention without so much backlash. Of course, that timeframe was well before the age of Cancel Culture.
I present, Exhibit A: Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998). It is currently rocking a solid 7.0/10 on IMDb. I’d have to say that Ever After is fairly close in concept to what the production attempts with this Cinderella. The exception being that it isn’t a musical. The titular character is independent and could take care of herself. She isn’t exactly the damsel in distress that the original painted. Nor was she a talented and kind, but vapid socialite abused and down on her luck. An interesting trivia tidbit is that the same cinematographer worked on both Ever After and this Cinderella.

I absolutely adore the direction that Columbia and Amazon are taking for this tale. If you put Ever After and A Knight’s Tale (2001), as well as a Broadway musical in a blender, it would be somewhat similar to this concept.
Cinderella sings of love finding a way, but at the same time, she has dreams and aspirations all her own. She wants to make her own way in the world and buck gender-based conventions. The time period that the story traditionally falls in remains the same, along with all of its gender stereotypes. Naturally, it would require a bit of magic or a ruler’s change of heart to make her dreams possible.

The diversity shown in costuming, characters, and dance were simply amazing. I loved how you could see different cultures represented through the dresses at the ball. This is also the first Cinderella version to include a non-binary Fairy God-person. Billy Porter (American Horror Story, Like a Boss, Pose) as the “Fabulous Godmotha” was fire. I enjoyed how he was tied into the story through narration and how his connection to Ella came to be. The town crier was another excellent addition as well. He helped keep the story flowing, added some appreciated humor, and made use of an interesting set piece.
Let’s not forget the musical aspect of the film. The multicultural experience was laced throughout the soundtrack. The herald announcements came in hip hop fashion, while the other numbers borrowed thematically appropriate tunes from the likes of Queen, Janet Jackson, Ed Sheeran, and Jennifer Lopez.
Cinderella is a celebration and I applaud the revelry from start to finish.  

The underlying messages encourage people to speak up for what they believe in and follow their dreams. Not only that, there’s a message that it is important to realize that we are not so bound in stone by the traditions and customs of the past that we cannot find what is right for now and in the future. We should take care of ourselves, as well. It brings a more modern approach to the medieval setting.
I also appreciate the new take on the family dynamic in Cinderella’s household. I don’t want to spoil it, so I can’t go into too much detail – but it’s a refreshingly new perspective.
Camila Cabello impressed me with her first cinematic role outside of music videos or the odd short. She certainly had the vocal chops to carry the lead, and I honestly can’t find fault with her performance. Idina Menzel (Frozen, Rent: Live, Uncut Gems) has proven vocal power, and I think fit brilliantly as the stepmother, considering the new direction they took the family in. I think the casting team deserves kudos here. All the voices seem well matched for roles – even the ones that couldn’t sing as well made sense.

With Kay Cannon (30Rock, Blockers, Pitch Perfect 2) at the helm of this production, I imagine audiences may be expecting a more comedy-driven experience along the lines of the Pitch Perfect (2012) movies or her sit-com experience. The humor is there, yet closely enmeshed with the story. There aren’t pause for laughs moments and it’s a bit more subtle, while the collegiate singers were more overt. I appreciated her deft touch so that the story didn’t get muddled.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoy this Cinderella experience. My daughter is happy that she watched along with me, fairly giddy as the credits rolled. She had to shush me a few times when I broke out into song along with the movie, but I can’t help it. The Irish artist Enya said it best with her song “How Can I Keep From Singing?”
Some of the dance moves might come across as suggestive (but very tamely so), and some of the choices made towards the end might not be typical of what parents want to use as an example. Those are my only cautions that support the PG rating.
I would recommend this Cinderella in a heartbeat and am delighted that it is an Amazon Prime Original. I can watch it as many times as I want.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 43%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 85%
Metascore – 43%
Metacritic User Score – 7.7/10
IMDB Score – 3.5/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4.5/5
Movie Trailer:

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