A Cinderella Story
Reviewed by: Lacey Mical (Callahan) Walker
Better than Average
Teens and families
Comedy, Romance, Teen
1 hr. 36 min.
Year of Release:
July 15, 2004 (wide)
Review of “Another Cinderella Story”
I entered the theatre to view this much-hyped, teenie bopper star-studded flick with skepticism looming, wondering just how palatable yet another “Cinderella story” would be.
Cinderella and Prince Charming. They meet, overcome their social barriers, foil the wicked step family, and live happily ever after.
Screenwriter Leigh Dunlap has taken a “been there, seen that,” plot and added some refreshing twists which make “A Cinderella Story” a story worth watching.
In this modern take on the tale, our “Cinderella” is Sam Montgomery (Hilary Duff), a sweet-natured girl who has been orphaned and left in the care of her stepmother (Jennifer Coolidge) who forces her to work in the family diner seven days per week, before and after school. In spite of this, Sam is an excellent student and plans on graduating early so that she can fulfill her late father’s goal for her: to attend Princeton University.
This ambition becomes a shared dream when she meets “Prince Charming” on the internet. We see Sam stealing moments from her days to spend time chatting electronically with her crush, who is also hoping for acceptance to Princeton. Unbeknownst to Sam, the boy she’s pouring her heart out to is Austin Ames (Chad Michael Murray), a popular jock and quarterback for their high school football team. Austin doesn’t realize the girl who’s stealing his heart is low-profile tomboy Sam, who serves him and his friends at the local diner and is constantly teased at school.
The cast does a good job telling the story. Jennifer Coolidge is perfect in her role of the wicked stepmother. Hilary Duff’s acting ability has improved. She did a good job with this role, and didn’t overact as she has done in the past. The ugly stepsisters (Madeline Zima and Andrea Avery) near-totally bombed. Most of their “funny” scenes were met with silence in the nearly full auditorium where I viewed the show.
The love story of this film is actually not based on lust as are most silver screen flings. A major theme in this film is that the beautiful people aren’t necessarily the ones worth knowing. Because they have formed a relationship on the internet, the two do not even know what each other looks like.
The downside of portraying this internet romance is that it encourages some unsafe behavior. Sam and Austin meet on-line, and talk only through chat programs, e-mail, and cellular text messaging. The two choose to retain their anonymity with each other until they plan to meet in person for the first time at a school event. Nothing is said about how dangerous this is in reality.
There are a few kissing scenes in the film. Little or no sexual innuendo.
Profanity is minimal, but present: one mild obscenity, four religious exclamations.
There is very little violence to speak of. Sam’s father loses his life in an earthquake early in the film. There is a very brief, non-graphic dramatic scene depicting this which could disturb small children, especially if they live in an area threatened by earthquakes. There’s also a scene of two boys tussling which is meant to be funny rather than frightening or violent.
Most Hollywood productions lead audiences to believe that true happiness can only be found in some romantic entanglement. This film does not follow suit, however, as we see Sam’s dad instructing her as a little girl that “happily ever after” doesn’t have to exist in finding prince charming, but in following her dreams and standing up for what she believes in. Spiritually, this script can serve as a springboard for Christian parents to instruct their children in seeking God’s plan for their lives and letting His dream be the wish their heart makes.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
Bottom line, this movie probably does not have something for the whole family, but it is a cute chick flick for a mother-daughter outing.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Mild
Producer’s synopsis: “Cinderella never had it this bad. In “A Cinderella Story”—a twisted and hilarious update of the classic fairy tale—high school senior Sam Montgomery (Hilary Duff) lives at the beck and call of her self-obsessed step-mother Fiona (Jennifer Coolidge) and her sinfully wicked step-sisters, who treat her more like a servant than a member of the family.
Official movie Web site: aCinderellaStory.com/