You might be wondering why I’m reviewing this Cinderella remake in April. It’s a good question. I wasn’t meant to be reviewing this film this week. In fact, I wasn’t even planning on watching this film. I was meant to be going to the cinema with a friend of mine this weekend and watching either Sonic or Mobius. In the end, she bought us tickets to the latest film in a magical trilogy written by She Who Must Not Be Named. I wasn’t intending on watching that film or discussing it on this blog. I’ve explained why in a previous post. After watching the film, I had plenty of thoughts but I don’t want to enter into this dialogue in any way. So I quickly watched this film instead.
I understand the desire to modernise fairy tales. I understand the desire to make them more feminist. It’s not a new concept and it’s one that I’m completely behind. What I do have an issue with, is the kind of feminism that the latest adaptation of Cinderella has at its core. Namely, that in order to be a boss bitch you have to forgo a lot of fun and girly stuff. The suggestion that Ella has to put off finding love, going to balls and getting married to be a strong female. It’s a very singular perspective and not in keeping with my idea of what feminism is. What’s wrong with finding a balance?
Cinderella is a magical and silly story. You can’t get away from that. However, this film tries really hard to mix the silliness with a very preachy moral message. It just doesn’t work. The two sides can’t come together to form a cohesive viewing experience. It overcomplicates the story and all the messages get lost. There are so many subplots that don’t really go anywhere and so many miss opportunities. Let’s not forget that they’ve also shoehorned in a mixture of pop and rock songs. None of which really seem appropriate to the story. It’s just a mess.
Then there’s the fact that all the characters are awful and the dialogue is really bad. Camila Cabello is a fine singer but she doesn’t really do much in the role. She’s a mixture of that clumsy tomboy and a boss bitch. A mix that, apparently, just makes you really annoying. The fact that Prince Charming is an absolute drip and the pair lacks any chemistry just means you have nobody to support. Even Minnie Driver and Pierce Brosnan playing the King and Queen isn’t enough to get me interested.
It says a lot about this film that the best character in it is James Acaster’s mouse-turned-footman-turned-mouse. A role that he wasn’t supposed to be playing. He looks completely confused the entire time but managed to get a few chuckles. Everyone else is a one-note stereotype. Even Billy Porter doesn’t make as much of an impression as he normally would. Casting him as this film’s Fairy Godmother figure, he is resigned to simply shouting “Yaas future Queen” and other tired one-liners. This film is full of characters we’ve seen a thousand times before without anything new being added.
I just don’t get what this film thinks it’s trying to do. Can you ever adapt Cinderella straight these days? You probably can but I see the appeal for updating the message. Is this the way to do it? Not at all. It’s a cash-grab that doesn’t care for championing women. Its capitalist message runs through the story. Ella isn’t looking to change the world. She’s looking to change her world. That’s a Margaret Thatcher level of feminism. It stinks.