Cinderella via TikTok has arrived, with a new non-Disney musical adaptation of the classic fairy tale on Amazon Prime Video. But this anachronistic reimagining of history doesn’t even remotely understand the audience he’s speaking to.
You know the story: long ago, in a distant kingdom, an obedient and beautiful young woman is bullied by her evil stepmother and ugly stepsisters, and then escapes due to a fairy godmother, a glass slipper and a prince charming. But what if Cinderella’s evil stepmother (FrozenIdina Menzel) were more of a mother to Jane Austen, were you worried that marrying rich is the only path to a woman’s happiness? What if the stepsisters are not ugly, but rather insecure? What if Cinderella does not seek salvation through a graceful prince, but through her own creative desires? On paper, this sounds promising. Running, Amazon Cinderella it is absolutely impossible to see.
Screenwriter and director Kay Cannon thrilled critics and audiences with her debut Blockers which tells an obscene but poignant story of parents and teens. However, he also created the forgettable Netflix series. Girlboss, so it is perhaps not surprising that his idea of female empowerment already feels old.
Pop star Camila Cabello makes headlines as Ella, who dreams of leaving her basement apartment behind and demanding that her adoptive family become a fashion designer with her own store. The fashion she creates is ugly, ornate, and flourishes without any sense of sophistication. Even the grand ball gown that is meant to be a show-style moment, and is described in the movie as “pure fantasy,” looks, at best, like an expensive ball gown. More troubling, however, is how Cannon changes the validation of hooking a prince in favor of the validation of commercial success. The focus in making Ella is not on the pride it gives her, but on how she could earn money from it. Because your passion means nothing if you can’t exploit it under capitalism. Remember that kids! Learn nothing from the exhaustion of the culture of the millennial hustle!
But don’t worry, she still hooks the prince, even though he’s not all of that. Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) has no interest in politics, becoming a king, or much more than “running around with his band of merry bros.” At least, until I see Ella. Then he becomes a select boy, dressing to impress and buying Ella a dress to get her attention. Do you believe in your work or do you just like it? Who will say? It is as underdeveloped as it is bland. He has no ambition beyond reaching for Ella, which isn’t exactly a fairy tale romance by today’s standards.
Luckily for the kingdom, her sister Princess Gwen (a brave Tallulah Greive) constantly launches forward-thinking proposals (sustainable energy! Wellness programs!) When she’s not hanging around the castle, literally looking for a “seat at the table.” . However, that is all it does. It’s a one-note joke, but it’s funnier that it’s meant to inspire.
Comments on feminism abound in Cannon’s script, with speeches on self-love, social justice, and resistance to men in power. But the narrative undermines these clichés. Cinderella’s success as a dressmaker is due to her proximity to wealth. Even his “Fabulous Godmother” (Billy Porter) acknowledges that by declaring, “The rich … will change your life!” He also insists that she wear uncomfortable high-heeled glass slippers, because “women’s shoes are the way they are. Even magic has its limits. “Look, it’s funny, because it’s impossible to fight or even disagree with painful gender norms!
The movie also hits one of the self-doubting stepsisters with messages of body positivity, but the filmmakers notably target the skinny one (Charlotte Spencer). In the meantime, Cinderella makes fun of fat people with regressive stereotypes. The bigger stepsister (Maddie Baillio) is clumsy and described as “unpleasant”, and when hurt, she turns to food for comfort. James Corden (who also produced) co-stars as one of Cinderella’s three mouse friends. And as with Cats, his jokes center on his weight, his bulk, and his insatiable desire for food.
From amazon Cinderella it also draws out the queer culture in search of the more conventional parts, to bring a glitz of inclusion and glamor. The mice make dark turns as She sings. Remembering RuPaul’s Drag Race, a brigade of would-be queens dripping fancy lip syncs for their lives to win the favor of a member of royalty. Then, of course, Porter shows up in a sassy orange outfit that fits her reel of red carpet highlights well. But the Fabulous Godmother is little more than the Magical Sassy Black Friend, whose sole purpose is to give Ella life-changing advice while making her look cool by proximity.
On top of all this, the musical numbers are woefully disappointing. The choreography lacks inspiration and offers nothing fascinating, much less memorable. Pre-existing songs that were chosen often feel unmotivated, with lyrics having little to do with what’s on screen. (“Seven Nation Army” sung by a sulking prince at a dance is a particularly odd choice). by the movie fares better, especially when Menzel is given a chance to bring his Broadway glitz to the fore. But the cinematography feels sloppy, with poor coverage and lighting that often leaves the characters’ eyes in shadow. Then, in a great moment of romantic ecstasy, Ella and her prince become as bored as the mice that scurry under their feet. And frankly, Cabello and Galitzine could use all the help they can get. They are pretty, but painfully lacking in chemistry or charisma.
Simply put, this movie is shockingly bad. It’s full of half-assed ideas, boring fashion, and outdated stereotypes. In a clumsy attempt to make it feel modern, Cannon hits songs by Ed Sheeran, Madonna, and Janet Jackson, along with sarcastic snippets like “girls love it”, “dude” and “that’s how the old people say” poppin Also, there is no sense of flow in the narrative. The scenes collide with each other without grace, which is even more remarkable in a musical.
Perhaps it is so disjointed because the filmmakers felt that Generation Z has embraced TikTok so completely that it does not demand flow. It’s easy to imagine a producer pitching this to Amazon with “Today’s kids just want dance, fashion, and social justice numbers, delivered in small bites!” But TikTok users show more uniqueness in their dancing, more nerve in their politics, and more talent in their fashion than this studio movie can muster. It’s downright irritating that a princess movie is completely lacking in grandeur. Everything Cannon has delivered is a disgraceful monstrosity that is deadly boring and intellectually shallow.
Cinderella releases exclusively on Prime Video on September 3.