Once upon a time, Cinderella dreamed of owning a business. At least that’s what the story tells in the new film by Kay Cannon, which takes the story of the princess into the 21st century with the best 40 pop songs, awkward dialogue and a banal overbearing sensibility.
Among the countless iterations that history has gone through over the centuries, this “Cinderella” (streaming on Amazon), with Camila Cabello in the role of the orphan, is to be forgotten. It is strangely fascinating, however, as a study of modernized fairy tale semiotics. In this realm steeped in anachronism, Ella fantasizes not about princes on horseback but about becoming a ball gown mogul. “You’ll know my name,” he says in an original opening issue, imagining a bazaar shop called Ella’s Clothes.
This thirst for business success replaces other more familiar themes from Cinderella’s story. Flint Stepmother (Idina Menzel) receives a number of solo acts, while Fabulous Godmother (Billy Porter) delivers cheeky lines and a few wand strokes. But neither of the two matriarchal figures shares a significant bond with our heroine, and even Ella’s deceased mother, whose presence often hangs over Cinderella’s stories, it matters little; Very soon, Ella happily sells her late mother’s heirloom brooch as part of an original dress.
The dialogue is also receiving an update. Forget “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo”: here the auctioneer raps, the rogue prince (Nicholas Galitzine) jokes with his sovereign brothers and the suffocating king (Pierce Brosnan) and the queen (Minnie Driver) flock to whose throne is bigger . They all speak in concrete, self-referential terms – a dialogue style of the day often associated with Joss Whedon’s script. “Yeah, I was just crying and singing over it, like two minutes ago,” Ella moans when the godmother asks if she wants to go to the prom.
There are notes of panache and panache that have enlivened more sparkling jukebox musicals such as “Pitch Perfect,” for which Cannon wrote the script. But with such a silly story, even Driver humming the opening notes of “Let’s Get Loud” is hard to appreciate. She uses the ball as a networking event, the monarchy lets a woman bend over the table, and everyone hatefully lives forever, at least until the next Cinderella remake.
Classified PG. Duration: 1 hour 53 minutes. Look on Amazon.
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