Worth A Look: 10.59%
Pretty Bad: 25.88%
Total Crap: 22.35%
3 reviews, 67 user ratings
|Cinderella Story, A
by Collin Souter
“A Cinderella Story” is one of this season’s Pleasant Romantic Comedy Guaranteed Not To Offend, Arouse or Provoke Thought. Summer is often filled with PRCGNTOAoPTs, although history hasn’t exactly proven the seasonal box office success of this sub-genre with the likes of “How To Deal” and “Alex & Emma,” two movies that perfectly fit the PRCGNTOAoPT mold. “A Cinderella Story,” like last season’s “Along Came Polly,” “Chasing Liberty,” “The Prince and Me,” “Win A Date With Tad Hamilton,” “50 First Dates” and countless others, strives for nothing more than to be likable, and it can be in tiny spurts, but most of the time, you’re left sitting there thinking: “I’ve seen this before. Where in God’s name have I seen this before?!? Did I just rent this movie?”Like many PRCGNTOAoPTs, “A Cinderella Story” stars two good-looking leads—in this case Hilary Duff and WB heartthrob Chad Michael Murray Vincent Smith—none of whom have had any pull at the box office, but seem to be appealing enough to cater to the teeny boppers who will attend. The movie will likely attract teen couples who have little to no discriminating tastes, teen couples who just want a Pleasant night out at the movies where they won’t be jerked around too much by anything unfamiliar, teen couples who rent “Ella Enchanted” and don’t mind paying the late fees.
"Rom-Com # 6: The Teen Update on Shakespeare or Fairy Tales."
And like many PRCGNTOAoPTs, the story concerns two characters at seemingly opposite ends from one another. “A Cinderella Story” fits the TTUOSOFT mold of The Teen Update On Shakespeare or Fairy Tales. And like many TTIOSOFTs, the girl, Sam (Duff) and the guy, Austin (Murray Scott Vincent Smith), start off not quite knowing one another. Sam and Austin have been instant messaging each other for a while, though it’s never clear how it all started. Both live in the San Fernando Valley and go to the same high school. She works in her deceased father’s diner and he works in his domineering father’s auto shop.
Along Comes a school dance where Sam and Austin agree to meet. It’s a costume ball and Sam has no costume. She also has to make sure her evil stepmother Fiona (Jennifer Coolidge) and her two obnoxious step-sisters (the Two Stoogesses) don’t find out. Acting as her fairy Godmother, Rhonda (Regina King) sets Sam up in a princess costume with nothing more than an eye mask to disguise her face. Taking her in his father’s car is Sam’s best friend, the geeky Carter (Dan Byrd). Once there, Sam and Austin hook up not knowing each other’s real names and, even though he saw her just a couple hours before this dance when he went to the diner where she works…HE DOESN”T RECOGNIZE HER!
Staying true to the Cinderella Story, the clock strikes midnight and Sam must return to the diner to make it look like she’s been working there all night. She leaves behind her cell phone, the only clue to her identity, but because it has a lock on it, he can’t figure out who she is (again, HE JUST SAW HER TWO HOURS AGO!!!). He searches for her by putting up posters with vague illustrations all over school, which results in the movie’s most degrading moment, a line of girls who want to claim the mystery girl’s identity. His search starts to narrow (Did I mention TWO HOURS AGO!?!) as the weeks go by and the two learn they both have the same dream: To go to Princeton.
Meanwhile, the two step-sisters pry into Sam’s email box, alert the snobby Popular Girls at school about it (one of whom dated Austin) and Sam’s secret gets revealed to the entire school via a bizarre pep rally where everybody seems to know exactly what’s going on, save for Austin’s dad, who doesn’t understand why his son would get tangled up with a mystery girl when he should be thinking about selling and cleaning cars. Of course, the message about courage overcomes everything else and the Prince and Princess live happily ever after.
So, fine. Nothing wrong with that, except that I didn’t hear that much laughter coming from the average American Teenage Citizen audience with whom I sat. Apparently, most of the best moments in “A Cinderella Story” can be seen in the trailer and the kiddies had apparently seen the trailer hundreds of times already. Aside from a couple charming moments from the cast and the fact that a star might be born in Dan Byrd, the one actor who actually looks like a high school student, the movie just plays like an Alicia Silverstone rom-com greatest hits package.
Movies like this can be frustrating in that one wishes they would either be better or worse. “Just please arouse something in me! Make me sit up and take notice! Make me angry! Just do something!” One likes to come out of a movie remembering something substantial once they bust open the exit doors and throw away their pretzel poppers. That doesn’t happen here. More likely, you’ll walk out staring at the marquees above every other theater door wondering if maybe you should have made a wiser choice. But even that part of the experience won’t stay with you because you’ll soon be back in the springtime air trying to remember where you parked your car. At that point, “A Cinderella Story” will feel like a distant dream.
(To learn more about this growing epidemic, please refer to the following reviews in this exciting Rom-Com Series:
1. Chasing Liberty: (http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8442&reviewer=233)
2. Along Came Polly: (http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8473&reviewer=233)
3. Win A Date With Tad Hamilton: (http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8579&reviewer=233)
4. 50 First Dates: (http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8698&reviewer=233)
5. The Prince & Me: (http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=9071&reviewer=233)Unless one of these non-dreamlike PRCGNTOAoPTs stars An Olsen Twin, they usually go down easily. I guess I just prefer rom-coms to stick out like a pro wrestler sipping a Fresca. “A Cinderella Story” might crowd-please for the duration of its pleasantly punctual 90-105 minute running time, and that’s all fine and good. One just wishes that the writers in Hollywood would figure out a way to create an original love story instead of just recycling old bits from Anne Hathaway movies. But as I said before, it’s summer and history has yet to prove the success of this sub-genre at this time of year. The biggest challenge we will get out of this film is how to pronounce TTUOSOFT.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10201&reviewer=233
originally posted: 07/19/04 14:33:12
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