If there’s one fairy tale that’s been done to death, it’s Cinderella. So, when Amazon announced their new pop musical version of the story, I wasn’t super excited. Through the grapevine I’d heard rumor that it wasn’t all that good, but I was intrigued.
Armed with a bowl of popcorn and my favorite snarky movie buddie, hubby dearest, we tackled the beast.
The basic Cinderella story is actually a bit of an insult. It assigns a woman’s worth to the wealth and prestige of the man she manages to marry. Cinderella herself is stuck in a miserable situation as an orphaned daughter stuck living with a step mother. This puts her last in line for any sort of beneficial marriage arrangement as her step mother’s other two daughters would have the first pick of suitors. Her rags to riches story is wish fulfillment for anyone who has felt stuck in their situation.
Amazon’s 2021 Cinderella twists that narrative and finally gives Cinderella dreams and goals of her own that don’t revolve around managing her father’s household or bagging a man. The Ella in this film wants to start her own business as a dress maker in a culture where women aren’t allowed to do much of anything.
The prince received a motivational makeover as well. In this version, he has no interest in finding a woman to marry and would rather live a life of his choosing with his friends. This changes when he meets Ella while in disguise and admires her drive. He invites her to the ball stating that it would be a great place to find people to buy her dresses, which is the only reason she ends up wanting to go – not because of the possibility of meeting the prince.
In previous versions of Cinderella, there’s been a trend of seeing who could make the stepmother and one of the stepsisters the most cruel, while the other stepsister is sympathetic to Ella. In this version, that cruelty is toned down to a mild frustration. The stepmother does put her daughters first and tends to ignore Cinderella. There are only a few instances where she could be called mean, and they’re pretty tame. After everything, she ends up being the character most sympathetic to Ella’s situation.
We also see far more interesting character development between the king and queen, who in previous versions of Cinderella only had one conflict – that of who their only son was going to marry to secure the future of their kingdom. In this version, they’ve added a younger sister, who has far greater political aspirations than the prince, and also put the relationship between king and queen itself in rocky territory.
With all these different focuses in the story, it dilutes the Ella story and adds in a whole lot more to consider. While this made it more interesting, it made it harder to just sit back and enjoy.
Have no fear, there is a charming happy ending that’s a twist on the original.
To describe this film best, take Disney’s original animated Cinderella, the Greatest Showman, and Hamilton – and throw them in a blender. Amazon’s Cinderella is a celebration of pop music stuck in Edwardian England. More than the music, there are all sorts of weird anachronisms that pop up, like zippers on clothing and one shot that included an angle grinder. For me, that was super distracting.
That said, the music and dancing were the best part of the film hands down. Visual candy.
As for everything else, I liked how they updated Ella’s character so that she wanted something other than bettering her domestic situation. However, all the other additions for all the other characters, while cute, complicated the story enough where it took away from the experience.
While this won’t be my favorite Cinderella iteration (Ever After still wins) it’s still a solid, entertaining show. It’s family friendly, minus a single potty joke. I swear James Corden can’t help it. I imagine viewers of all ages would enjoy it, as there’s enough eye candy to make up for any slower talking portions. That, and the all star cast, including Camilla Cabello, Idina Menzel, and Minnie Driver, knocked their performances out of the park.
I give Amazon’s Cinderella 3/5 – a solid watch, entertaining, but with a few flaws that draw away from the experience.
Thank you for joining me as I shared my review of Amazon’s Cinderella today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, joining my Facebook group, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.