Starring: Hillary Duff, Chad Michael Murray, Jennifer Coolidge
Director: Mark Rosman
Running Time: 95 mins
A Cinderella Story is an American film about a teenage girl, living at home with her evil stepmother, sees hope when her secret admirer offers her the opportunity to attend her school’s dance with him.
Rather irritatingly, this isn’t a Disney Channel Original Movie, so I can’t blame everything on it being an object of that conveyor belt, but I think you can get the picture from those four words alone. As generic as tween romantic-comedies get, and featuring as illogical and ridiculous a story as you can imagine, A Cinderella Story is a consistently irritating watch that just isn’t as entertaining as it thinks it is. However, there’s something about its cheesy, sickly optimism that occasionally does get to you, making it often a lot less painful than you’d expect.
However, we’ll start with the negatives, the biggest of which is the story. First of all, the film is irritating enough from the word go simply because it thinks it’s on the level of Cinderella, an absolute legend of a story. Unfortunately, the film isn’t a parody of Cinderella, but rather a ‘modern retelling’ – something that very rarely goes right on the big screen – and that means it just takes itself far too seriously for its own good.
What’s more is that the story keeps forgetting its own niche. The story is totally generic from start to finish, however given that it’s retelling the story that wrote the rulebook on this genre, it would be a little more acceptable. However, the film often goes long periods – up to 30 minutes at times – with barely a mention of the Cinderella-esque story, choosing instead to start copying other films like Pretty In Pink.
But then we come to the sheer illogical nature of the story itself. Sure, it’s a light-hearted romance for young girls to watch, but that doesn’t escape the fact that it’s filled to the brim with infuriating plot holes and inconsistencies. Of course, normal rules apply, so I won’t spoil anything for you, but suffice to say that the film’s entire first half relies on a slightly creepy and often ridiculous secret romance, and its second act relies on you believing that a teenage boy is effectively blind, and can’t recognise the same person twice.
Yes, I may be taking this all a little seriously, but there are so many far better kids’ movies that don’t have all these sorts of problems. Look back at the original Cinderella, it manages to tell a cheesy romance story with heart and joy, all the while keeping things watertight from beginning to end, making for a hugely entertaining watch.
When it comes to the performances, it’s a fairly hard part of the film to judge, simply because it feels like all of the actors are victim to the film’s time period and genre. Again, it’s not a Disney Channel Original Movie, but if you’ve ever seen one of those, then you’ll know what the acting is like here: wooden, excessively smiley, and not in the least bit convincing or emotionally engaging.
On the whole, I wasn’t at all impressed by A Cinderella Story, but even I have to admit that there are times when its stupidly happy and optimistic atmosphere does make for some fun. It’s always nice to see the villains get their comeuppance, and when the good guys have things go well, it does put a smile on your face, no matter how begrudgingly so.
Overall, there’s not much to praise about this film. It’s a generic tweenie bopper movie with next to no logic, nor an interesting or cleverly-written story. It’s clearly not a film directed at me, and even though it occasionally made me smile with all its cheesy ridiculousness, it’s just not a particularly impressive film in any way, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.0.