Lately, every time I open my Amazon Prime account, Camila Cabello and Billy Porter dance across my screen in their fabulous outfits, singing the catchy original song, “Million to One.” I wasn’t going to watch it. I wasn’t going to fall for the beautiful costumes designed by Ellen Mirojnick or the all- star cast including Minnie Driver, Pierce Brosnan, and Idina Menzel. I was going to be strong because, really, who needs another remake of Cinderella?
Then the teaser changed. Suddenly the ensemble was at the ball singing En Vogue’s “Whatta Man,” and advancing on a terrified Prince Charming (Nicholas Galitzine). I laughed out loud. Finally, after weeks of fighting, I broke. Resigned to potentially waste the next two hours of my life, I grabbed a glass of wine and a box of Cheez-Its, and sat down to watch it.
To be fair, Kay Cannon’s Cinderella was clearly aimed at a younger audience, so I probably would have loved it when I was 10. The jukebox musical follows a forward- thinking, ambitious Ella with dreams of being a fashion designer and opening her own shop. While endearing in theory, I unfortunately had to agree with Rotten Tomatoes’ 43% rating. The music choices were questionable and the singing was subpar (except for Idina Menzel); the dialogue was clunky and stale, the humor almost never landed, and the main characters lacked chemistry. The only things that kept me watching were the stunning costumes, and, of course, Idina Menzel.
The main saving grace for this movie were the costumes. Ellen Mirojnick seamlessly combined a chic modern style with the fairytale ballgown of old. The bright colors and variety of styles were a definite highlight throughout the entire movie. One costume that must be mentioned is Fab G’s (Billy Porter’s) fairy godmother costume. The exact color orange of a monarch butterfly, the outfit - made up of sparkly pants and a voluminous silk jacket - beautifully combined traditionally male and female elements in a way that perfectly promoted the movie’s message of inclusion and tolerance. Plus, it looked simply fabulous.
I couldn’t help but appreciate the feminist approach to the classic tale, but Cabello’s Ella was not compelling as a character. In fact, none of the characters in this movie appeared to take themselves seriously - it felt more like a satire than a remake. Well, none of the characters except the evil stepmother played by Idina Menzel.
The evil stepmother was the only character who was provided any depth. Menzel’s nuanced acting and captivating performance portrayed the evil stepmother as a surprisingly sympathetic character who just wants the best for her daughters. Don’t get me wrong, the evil stepmother is still vicious and cruel, but Menzel’s performance adds the idea of good intentions behind her wicked ways. Additionally, where many of the musical numbers read like glorified karaoke, Menzel’s performances achieved the authentic feel of a real musical number (even when she was singing Madonna's “Material Girl”). Her song “Dream Girl” demanded your attention and added startling depth to her character.
While the movie as a whole wasn’t great, with a few glasses of wine and good company, Amazon Prime’s Cinderella could provide solid entertainment… but truly only as a comedic satire of the beloved classic. If you’re looking for a more enticing, realistic, or endearing pick, I would opt out or rent Ever After with Drew Berrymore (that’s my favorite Cinderella story!). Either way, the clock definitely struck midnight on this one.