Cinderella has a glass slipper and a fancy ball. It also has pop music, rap, dance numbers, an inclusive cast, and a nonbinary fabulous godmother. The dominant message is to be true to yourself and live your passion – a theme that applies to both the women and the men in this reworked version of the old tale.
Cinderella, whose name is actually Ella, is played by Camila Cabello. Cabello is a Cuban singer who wrote some of the songs for the film. She has charisma to spare. Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) who chases her all around his kingdom bearing a glass slipper, is underwhelming by comparison.
Vivian (Idina Menzel) is the wicked stepmother. The two sisters are Narissa (Charlotte Spencer) and Maivolia (Maddie Baillio). Picture them singing “Material Girl” and you’ll understand the vibe of this film.
The music was an uneven mix of original material and pop song covers. The dancers and singers were all very good, which helped with some of the songs.
The Prince’s parents were King Rowan (Pierce Brosnan) and Queen Beatrice (Minnie Driver). They were as changed by Ella and her modern attitudes as their smitten son.
Princess Gwen (Tallulah Greive) was the Prince’s sister. She was full of great ideas to improve the kingdom. She was Kamela Harris, Hillary Clinton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Elizabeth Warren all rolled into one. In other words, the most fit person to run the kingdom. Which women weren’t supposed to do, you know that.
Fabulous Godmother (Billy Porter), a bejeweled butterfly with a magic wand, does the magic with the mice and the dress and the midnight curfew and sends Ella to the ball. Ella wants to go because she might meet some potential customers for the fashion design business she wants to start. The Prince, who was “kind of cute,” had invited her personally, too.
The ball had dancing and singing and sort of falling in love unless it interferes with a girl’s career plans. And then, boom, midnight comes and the glass shoe thing happens, etc., etc., etc.
This version of the Cinderella story is for modern girls. Modern girls do not dream of being princesses. They dream of learning to code or opening their own cannabis dispensary. Ella has dreams, ambition, and bold plans. Just because a guy is going to be a king someday, that doesn’t mean you want to marry him. Of course it doesn’t. A girl can make her own way if she feels so inclined.
Does this fairy tale have a happily ever after ending? Here’s a hint. The writer and director of the film is Kay Cannon, who also worked on films like Pitch Perfect and TV series like Girl Boss and Cristela.
Good musicals abound recently. I thought In the Heights was fabulous. I enjoyed the nostalgia of Schmigadoon and the cute sweetness of Vivo. This musical was not as good as the best of them, but it was upbeat and had a strong message.
And a trailer.
Are you going to give Camila Cabello a chance to charm you? Let me know what you think if you watch this one.