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‘Cinderella’ 2021: Bippity-boppity-absolutely not

| Thursday, September 16, 2021

Claire Kirner | The Observer

The moment I saw the trailer for the new Cinderella remake starring Camila Cabello, I was skeptical. From the classic Disney cartoon “Cinderella” from the 1950s to “A Cinderella Story” in 2004, Cinderella remakes are nothing new. The classic pauper to princess tale has been told countless times with some wins and many losses. So, when I heard of another retelling of the same story, I couldn’t help but sigh. 

Writer and director Kay Cannon spun the tale so that, instead of just a poor girl, Cinderella is an aspiring fashion designer who cannot make it in her world because of her gender. Meanwhile, the Prince (Nicholas Galitzine) is a playboy who does not want to settle down. The story follows the usual trope of a boy who sees a girl, falls in love and decides she is the one even though they never met. Cinderella also has to deal with her evil stepmother (Idina Menzel) and stepsisters (Maddie Baillio and Charlotte Spencer) and get transformed by her Fabulous Godmother (Billy Porter) to get to the ball. The difference is that she wants to go to the ball to sell a dress she made and network instead of trying to find true love. In the end, Cinderella and the Prince are together, but Cinderella does not want to be a Princess, so the prince renounces the throne to his younger sister. Meanwhile, Cinderella gets a job helping design dresses for a Queen.  

I went in with an open mind, hoping that the movie was not as bad as others said. Then I watched the movie. The terrible lip-syncing threw me off in the first song, and I could hardly stop my laughter the rest of the film. The world of Cinderella is weirdly out of touch with incredibly sexist standards, and doesn’t mention racism or other forms of discrimination at all. It is as if the only issue in the world is that you are a woman and want to have a job instead of getting married. 

Cinderella is also a feminist, but only for herself. Instead of bringing women together and working with other women, Cinderella goes alone singing “Million To One,” where she says, “If it’s a million to one, I’m gonna be that one.” Instead of supporting other women, she acts as if she is the only woman in the world who wants to have a job. The scene that stood out to me the most was at the ball, where all of these beautiful, diverse and strong women danced and sang, “What A Man,” obsessing over the prince. This scene made me angry, because all these amazing women are fighting over a legitimately terrible guy, and somehow, Cinderella is the only one not interested in him. Cinderella was also wearing the most basic dress compared to the other women, and she calls herself a “dress designer.” I wanted to see the other women turn away from the prince and show how they are worth more than just one man, but that never happened. Instead, the women got physical over the prince and turned against one another. Women supporting women is an essential part of feminism, and this film completely forgot that and acted as if all women are boy crazy except for one unique woman.

This film’s message to little girls is that either you are a woman who pursues feminism for the sake of yourself, or you are like all other women meaning you are boy-crazy and power-hungry. I did not particularly appreciate how the movie portrayed women at all, and even less how they tried to create a feminist narrative that ended up not feminist at all.

Another outrageous thing was the acceptance of the emotional abuse done by the stepmother and stepsisters. Instead of Cinderella trying to escape situations, Cinderella accepts the treatment and returns it with kindness. The stepmother and stepsisters’ actions are also then taken by the end of the film and forgiven. I was distraught by this because abuse is unacceptable. What message does this send to children? That they should accept abuse and always respond with kindness? 

Other issues with the movie include the Queen and King’s marriage, the poor sister to the prince and the horrendous mice. I was only happy with Billy Porter’s version of the Fairy Godmother, but the part was too short, and Idina Menzel’s rendition of “Material Girl.” 

Overall, I was very disappointed and upset at the new Cinderella. It’s a no from me.


Title: Cinderella (2021)

Starring: Camila Cabello, Billy Porter, Idina Menzel 

Director: Kay Cannon

If you like: A Cinderella Story, Cinderella (2015)

Shamrocks: 0 out of 5

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