Cinderella 2021 Review: Just Why?


Gavin Clingham

Gavin Clingham (pictured) with his viewing therapy dog, Wilbur.

Gavin Clingham, Staff Writer

So, as it turns out, the new Cinderella is not some internet prank meant to take down James Corden, but it is a real, full movie. It is a real movie that somehow got funding from two different powerhouse studios (Sony Pictures and Amazon Prime). I have no idea why this exists, but considering everything behind this movie, it had the makings of a movie I’d torture myself with.

First, you have a story that’s been adapted into more media than any Shakespeare play, a random soundtrack filled with cover songs, a strange modern twist, and the fact that its most popular promotion is James Corden thrusting towards a camera while wearing a rat costume. With these ingredients, it could only mean a movie worth wasting my limited free time on. So, I popped some popcorn, sat on the couch, brought my dog to help me survive the full 90 minutes, and sat through this really strange movie. 

Camila Cabello’s Cinerella with Billy Porter’s fabulous godmother who’s barely in this movie. (

Cinderella is a story you’ve probably seen a thousand times. A young girl with a cruel step-family gets a wish from a fairy godmother who allows her to find true love at a ball held by the prince. However, it’s the changes to this story that separate it so distinctly from its source material. The film promotes itself as a modern retelling of Cinderella. It seems like it tries a little too hard to do this while simultaneously trying to make it a commentary on gender issues in the late 1800s. With the conflicting modern tones, it also tries to add a massive change to the story that feels so weird. In this version, Cinderella is a woman who has a passion for dressmaking. I didn’t think about this until I watched the movie, but I realized that in the original tale, her dresses are made by everyone else around her. Think about it: her two main ball-gowns are miraculously constructed by a bunch of mice and pulled out of thin air by a fairy godmother. Also, this new dress-making plotline kind of makes the original story structure feel like a massive side plot. A butterfly turns into a Billy Porter fairy godmother that gives her a dress and gives her a carriage and it feels like it does nothing for the story. And while the film tries to blend these two different ideas together, James Corden is there to make you very uncomfortable by talking about how a rat uses the bathroom. So yeah, the story is not that great.

I also have such a massive issue with the music in the film. Its two best songs are the songs that were written for the film. All the other songs are a random collection of songs that you might not have guessed would end up in a movie like this. The large-scale cover of “Am I Wrong” by the cast feels out of place and demonstrates how cheap and basic the songs really are. A lot of them are pretty good on their own, but some just feel so random. It feels as if the music was chosen for people with a ridiculously specific music taste. Also, most of the covers feel like they cheapen the original song except for a few minor exceptions. One of the reasons for this is that since pretty much every song feels extraordinarily different from the other songs on the soundtrack, the music department tries to keep a consistent tone in every song so they sound like they belong in the same musical. The result is just an overall garbled theme of songs that feel ridiculously all over the place. On top of that, most of the songs are performed in a constrained set. Instead of having a character go around in a location because they don’t have the conformities of a small stage, most of the time, the characters that sing simply stay in one area. So, sadly, this film doesn’t hold up well as a musical.

The director of the film (Kay Cannon) telling Cabello to tenderly gaze the dress. (

The film’s cast is one aspect that is a little bit muddled. Camila Cabello does just fine as Cinderella and Nicholas Galitzine does alright as the prince despite the fact that I was paying more attention to single earring. I know this sounds odd but I just kept going back and forth on thinking if that type of thin earring would exist at the time and why is it just one single earring and then by the time I was finished asking questions, I realized that I missed his whole character arc. James Corden brings about as much as he did to Cats, so that was obviously the hardest part of the movie to get through. Pierce Brosnan has an alright roll up until they have him sing and then my entire perception of his performance changed. I pretty much have so many muddled thoughts because I feel like all these actors would do better in other things, just not this movie. There are a few people who actually did well. Billy Porter had no more than five minutes of screen time but he absolutely gave it his all and made the most out of a pretty lame song. The movie severely underused him, but he did pretty well with what was given to him. Also, Idina Menzel was probably what kept me invested in the film. The film tries to make the evil stepmother seem more human which kind of seems like a lost cause considering the history of the character. Even though this film kind of fails at accomplishing this, Menzel makes it at least believable to take in. She’s given a bad cover song arrangement and she makes the absolute most of it: she figures out how to blend cruel and good together and she writes an original song for the movie and gives a rock solid performance in it. She gives way too much effort for a film that gave her little to work with. So all and all, this is a really weird film. I feel like that’s the best way I can possibly describe it. It’s not like He’s All That which was empty and boring and it’s in no way like the original classic Cinderella, but it doesn’t give me the brain melting and life scarring experience that Cats gave me (I’m working on not talking about it but if it’s a musical I’m reviewing, it’s bound to feature Cats). It just holds up as a really strange film that doesn’t make a lot of sense. It is also really weird how Amazon decided to give this an exorbitant amount of promotion. It wasn’t even like what they do with most of their shows by giving sponsorships and finding clever subtle ways to promote it widely. They printed the poster to this movie on nearly every Amazon package. For some reason Amazon decided that this was the film that everyone had to see.

Gavin Clingham
Gavin Clingham