A Cinderella Story Movie Review

A short time ago in a valley far, far away, a timeless tale was modernized. A royal ball was turned into the Halloween homecoming dance, the evil stepmother was turned into Stifler's Mom (Jennifer Coolidge), the stepsisters became valley girls, and the glass slipper switched into a cell phone.

In this latest telling, Cinderella is Sam (Hilary Duff), aka PrincetonGirl818, a girl who spends her days studying to get into Princeton (because that's where princesses go), her nights slaving for her evil stepmother at a Valley roller-diner with the class of a collagen injection. The majority of her school hours are spent text messaging her secret admirer, Austin (Chad Michael Murray), aka Nomad. (I really feel sorry for whoever actually has those AIM IDs.) The evil stepsisters are social jokes with the combined IQ of an imbecile, and the fairy godmother is a waitress sister with an attitude (Regina King).

Of course Prince Charming is the King of high school - he's captain of the football team, student body president, and object of lust of every female freshman and above. As in all teen angst movies, Prince Charming really only wants to be a writer and ditch daddy's dream for him (in this case it's going to Princeton instead of USC). Cinderella is, of course, a social nobody that everyone calls "Diner Girl." Her only friend is a method actor who goes into school as a different stereotype each day.

Amazingly, A Cinderella Story actually draws blood from this turnip plot. Even though each character is a complete cardboard cut-out, everybody plays their part with enough panache to make it funny. Coolidge highlights the movie as a perfect demonstration of what happens when white trash attacks. First-time writer Leigh Dunlap does a deft job of making valley girls even a little bit funny again, although there's not an original bone in the movie's body.

Cinderella Story is not really noteworthy and not really bad. It's got enough humor to get a smirk about every five minutes, but also has enough cheesiness and stupidity that I'll have probably forgotten all about the movie in about a week.

Even so, Cinderella ends up nicely timed: it's a decent romantic comedy in a summer that hasn't produced anything worth seeing. It's also got typecasted "hot teen guy #1" Murray, which will ensure that the teen girl half of the theatre will be glued to their seats with drool. These slight edges should make sure that Cinderella does fine in the box office and ends up on the shelves of many makeup-clad teens that really, truly, desperately only want to be themselves.

The DVD includes deleted scenes, a giggle-infused commentary track from Duff and "friends," screen tests, and a music video from Hilary and her kid sister. Whee!

Gimme a D! Gimme a U! Gimme an F-F!


A Cinderella Story Rating

" OK "

Rating: PG, 2004


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