Cinderella 2021 [Grade: B]

Director: Kay Cannon

Story By: Kay Cannon

Cast: Camila Cabello, Nicholas Galitzine, Idina Menzel, Pierce Brosnan, Tallulah Greive, Minnie Driver, & Billy Porter

* * *

“I hated every f’ing second of it” was a tweet I noticed at the top of my twitter feed. 

Was I excited about this adaptation of Cinderella? Eh… not necessarily. It was a film I was planning not to rush and see, but the tweet moved me to check it out sooner. 

It is NOT bad at all. Im actually glad I watched it when I did. 

* * *

Below are my grades for key components in #Cinderella2021 that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character Arc/Development. 

Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch/$$$, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start), Wait for Streaming, Don’t Rush, & Don’t Watch.

I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.

* * *

Theme: A

Plot & Story: B

Pacing: B

Character Arc/Development: C

* * *

Entertainment Factors

General Public: Don’t Rush

Ages 10-15: Worth the Watch

Adaptation Fans: Interesting Enough

Film Enthusiasts: Don’t Rush

* * *

TAKEAWAYS:

1. I really loved Pierce Brosnan in this! I don’t know what it was about his performance, but whenever he was on screen I felt move invested. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾🙌🏾

2. When I taught 7th grade, I had a fantasy fiction unit unpacking the misrepresentation we see with fantastical characters, and a unit project with students writing a short fantasy that is more modern and a disruption to the issues prevalent in fantasy stories. 

One lesson in that unit focused on dissecting the role women often play in fantasy, and I LOVED how this adaptation took the Cinderella story and made the messaging about women empowerment, disrupting misogyny, and women prioritizing their dreams vs men/marriage. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾🙌🏾

Act One is actually a little slow to jump start this message, possibly due to what felt like needing to still ground that traditional Cinderella feel, but it is made very clear once it’s brought to the forefront. 

Act Two is possibly the strongest act to get this message across. Even the shift as to why Cinderella wants to go to the ball, and her intentions once at the ball, were great moments to solidify the message. 

Act Three does great job elevating the message, as well as providing the message its “happily ever after.” The pacing just made it feel “too quick.” 🥴

3. First of all, Billy Porter looked fabulous. Yeeeesssss… I just wasn’t here for some of his lines. Something felt too “stock character gay” vs this simply fab Godmother. 🙌🏾🥴

4. I’m sorry, but that opening song felt so random and odd to the rest of the film. Why are we singing Rhythm Nation? What does that have to do with anything in this film? 🤨🤦🏾‍♂️

5. The story was really cute and well executed for the most part—A stepdaughter deals with the pressure of trying to follow her dreams in a world that expects women to simply exist as the complement to a man.

I really wish Act One did a better job with creating Cinderella’s dilemma vs focusing on that damn Rhythm Nation dance number. It does come in towards the second half of Act One, but I feel more depth could’ve been given to her motivations had the film started with her (I don’t know why folks like to always start with the setting—it feels so “story telling 101”). 🥴

Act Two, again, is the strongest in executing Cinderella’s story. We get more of her dilemma, and every statement and action made by her is connected to her motivation which also doubles as the declaration that this story is not like the original. I also appreciated us learning more about the prince and his household which really added that new texture to this story. 👍🏾👍🏾

Act Three’s choice in using Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud” was oddly perfect to concluding Cinderella’s story and placing the bow on the message—I don’t think I had ever paid attention to the lyrics of Let’s Get Loud until now. The issue is that Act Three felt like a rush. I could literally feel writers simply saying “and she lived happily ever after” and then the team figuring out what could represent “happily ever after” while being entertaining. I think this also slowed down possibilities for better character arcs. 🥴

6. Now why was that black horn player wearing them gold hoops? That was not proper costuming for the context. 😂🤦🏾‍♂️

7. My favorite musical moment was “Somebody To Love.” That did that! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾🙌🏾

8. Pacing kept up well for the fun and overall attentiveness, but not quite for helping the arc of the characters, and developing Cinderella to her greatest potential. 👍🏾

Act Three moved too fast for me; and Act One moved too slow for Cinderella, but also moved too fast as if quickly trying to lay down the traditional story foundations that would remain. 🤦🏾‍♂️

9. I also loved the Material Girl moment with Menzel and the daughters. She ate that. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

10. Yeeeesss for the Town Crier. 😍

11. That dress was beautiful! 😩🙌🏾

12. Um… I don’t know how I feel about the moment Vivian realizes that Cinderella was at the ball… their interaction felt too sudden. 🥴

13. The character arc and development was possibly the weakest aspect to the story for me. I think the story tried to stick so close to that “happily ever after” premise that it missed out on providing more complexity to Cinderella, the prince, and Vivian—especially considering that this story tackled weighty societal ideals. 

Vivian clearly represented traditional thinking of the township, but we don’t really get that range from her character to get a glimpse of her fears and aspirations to truly support that “moment” she had with Cinderella in Act Three. 

I appreciated the prince’s character more in Act One, but felt that the creativity of his character was written a little lazily in Acts Two and Three. That  common fantasy theme of “love” was too easily applicable to his character who seemed more resonating to modern day men in Act One. And yeah, Act Three tried to “calm down” that “love” theme with his character, but even getting there felt forced. It was as if he was under a love potion spell suddenly in Act Two. 

Then there’s Cinderella who represents the now and the future, but the film doesn’t allow us to see more of her representing the now. Why couldn’t Act One actually open with her in the town square singing a song expressing her struggles of being a girl with dreams in a town of women belittlers? And/Or show more difficult interactions in her home regarding her dreams? And/Or more difficult interactions between her and Vivian (especially since the original story showcases the toxic relationship between Cinderella and her stepmother)? 🥴🤦🏾‍♂️

14. The mice were really adorable and cast well. 👍🏾👍🏾

15. Gwen’s character was funny. 👍🏾

16. There was something very uneventful with the dress reveal. It had me hooked initially, but then the excitement sort of fizzled rather quickly… I’m not sure why, but something was missed for me. 🥴

* * *

Overall, #Cinderella2021 gives Aladdin 2019- meets Bridgerton – meets Billboard Pop Charts – meets Lin Manuel Miranda.

The film is actually a good time. No it doesn’t follow the actual story of Cinderella, but it does provide the main moments that make Cinderella, Cinderella—The fairy godmother, the gown, and the ball. It could’ve upped the ante a bit with the step family interaction, but the decision that was ultimately made wasn’t a detriment. 

If anything, I feel that this rendition didn’t follow through with its adaptations as much as it could’ve. Maybe it was the rating. Maybe it was a missed thought. Maybe it wasn’t the primary intention. But even despite this, the film is still a cute remake. It’s light. Up beat. And Pierce Brosnan was such a surprise joy. 

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