Amazon’s Cinderella is quite a frustrating watch. The movie tries so hard to include every popular trend at the time of its conception that it seems like it almost can’t be bothered to be a Cinderella story. Between the – let’s say odd – casting choices, reliance on popular and recognizable songs and references to other properties, Cinderella feels like it prioritizes views over telling a story. This desire to be viewed is then even more dumbfounding considering the absurd 113-minute runtime. For reference, Disney’s 1950 telling of Cinderella is only 75 minutes.
All the negatives of the film considered, it’s not entirely worthless. Depending on how much you are willing to bear, there is some enjoyment to be found in the movie: some of the lines (intentionally or not) are pretty funny, and most of the references to other media are surface level at best, but they can be entertaining. For instance, royal decrees are announced through a Hamilton style marching band, and the energy through which they are delivered carry each scene.
Taking all of this into consideration, is Cinderella worth a watch? On your own, absolutely not. The movie is far too boring and groan-worthy for one person to withstand. Once friends enter the picture, though, you may actually enjoy yourself. If all that was enough for you, then thanks for reading, but if you don’t care about getting things spoiled (it’s a Cinderella movie; you already know how it goes) then read on.
The group of friends I watched this with consisted of Music, Theatre, and Integrated Media majors, so we were able to pick out and properly mock things like lighting and transitions. But for the average moviegoer, you will still have plenty of things to point your finger and laugh at. For a movie backed by Amazon, the special effects are notably terrible, save for one scene with Billie Porter and a butterfly. The mice in Cinderella’s basement are atrocious, especially compared to the legitimately impressive butterfly scene.
Most of the Amazon money likely went to the soundtrack and the cast. The movie starts out with a terrible cover of “Rhythm Nation” by Janet Jackson, a good indication of how the rest of it will go. The Most Ludicrous Song Choice award goes to a medley of “Whatta Man” by Salt-N-Pepa and “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes.
As far as the cast, Cinderella sees Camila Cabello as the titular character, Billie Porter as the “Fabulous Godmother” (yeah), Pierce Brosnan as the king, and the wickedly talented Idina Menzel (or is it Adele Dazeem?) as Cinderella’s stepmother. Cabello’s acting, while nothing remarkable, is far from terrible. There is far worse acting from the sister characters, but, for me, some of their line deliveries were done in such a so-bad-they’re-good way that they made me laugh. Porter’s inclusion may seem tokenizing to some, but he made the most of what he was given and ended up being my favorite character in the movie. Both Brosnan and Menzel seemed aware of the type of project they were in and acted accordingly.
What about the plot, you may be asking? Well, lucky for you, along with the main plot, there are four subplots, three of which go to the royal family alone. With so many threads going on, the only ones that actually have so called “full arcs” are Cinderella’s and the Prince Robert’s. The subplots with the stepmother and the relationship between the king and queen are started but never given complete resolution, and the last sublot with the princess is never really given any focus and is only able to progress because of other people’s choices.
The sublots with the stepmother and the king and queen both stick out, but for opposite reasons. The relationship between the king and queen is very interesting, and it could have been its own separate story. There were actual layers hinted at and an interesting message about how power and time can poison relationships. On the other hand, the arc of the stepmother can be seen as problematic. In almost every telling of the Cinderella story, the stepmother and her daughters are nothing but cruel and abusive towards Cinderella. That is the case in this movie as well, but it tries to give the stepmother a tragic past and wants you to sympathize with her.
All in all, despite all the memes you’ve seen on Twitter and Tik Tok, Cinderella is not the worst movie ever made. If you want to watch it with your friends, go for it. Have a blast! I think something to point out about this movie and others like it is that one of the reasons they keep getting made is that people keep on complaining about them. All the memes you’ve seen talking about how terrible it looks have done a better job than any marketing company ever could. Any attention is good attention in this industry, so Amazon Prime Video doesn’t care how many views are hate views compared to people legitimately interested in watching something. All the numbers tell them is that they should make another one. If you truly think it looks terrible, you don’t need to make a post on all your social media accounts about it. Ignoring these movies will make them go away, so give your attention to good movies, and ensure we get more of the good stuff.