Prayer Focus
Movie Review

A Cinderella Story

MPAA Rating: PG for mild language and innuendo

Reviewed by: Lacey Mical (Callahan) Walker
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens and families
Genre:
Comedy, Romance, Teen
Length:
1 hr. 36 min.
Year of Release:
2004
USA Release:
July 15, 2004 (wide)
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Brothers

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Review of “Another Cinderella Story

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Featuring: Hilary Duff, Jennifer Coolidge, Chad Michael Murray, Dan Byrd, Regina King, Julie Gonzalo, Lin Shaye, Madeline Zima, Andrea Avery, Mary Pat Gleason, Paul Rodriguez, Whip Hubley, Kevin Kilner, Erica Hubbard, Kady Cole, Brad Bufanda, JD Pardo, Aimee Lynn Chadwick, Simon Helberg, Hannah Robinson, Josh Prince, Art La Fleur, James Eckhouse, Jonathan Slavin, John Billingsley, Lilli Babb, Carlie Westerman, Mike Randleman, Christie Herring, Lindsay Hollister, Taylor Hoover, Brittany Weber, Darryl Sivad, Rita Maye Bland, Keli Murphy, Alexis Raich, Sabin Rich, Sandra McCoy, Julianne Waters, Karen Elmore, Stella Choe, Jessie Rice-Holiday, Cricket Hamar, Shannon Novak, Oscar Orosco, Jason Beitel, Kato Bonner, Carol Borjas, Reshma Gajjar, Molly Gosline, Hunter Hamilton, Richard Jackson, Trey Knight, Jonathan Ritter, Jenny Seeger, Becca Sweitzer, Melanie Gage, Jolene Riella
Director: Mark Rosman, Susan Duff
Producer: Warner Bros. Pictures, Gaylord Films, Clifford Werber Productions, Dylan Sellers Productions, Dylan Sellers, Susan Duff, Clifford Werber, Ilyssa Goodman, Hunt Lowry
Distributor: Warner Brothers

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


Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “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.

With her sights set on attending Princeton, Sam finds her less-than-sparkling social life wonderfully complicated when she meets her prince charming online. But when her anonymous cyber soul mate turns out to be her high school’s über-popular quarterback Austin Ames (CHAD MICHAEL MURRAY), Sam makes a mad dash back to reality, leaving her cell phone behind just before the clock strikes midnight.

Fearing rejection if her secret is revealed, Sam dodges Austin’s efforts to discover the identity of his princess. Will Sam let fear hold her back, or will she find the courage to be herself and claim the life she’s always wanted? Her chance at happily ever after depends on it.”

Official movie Web site: aCinderellaStory.com/


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Though I have to agree with something I read about how Duff is not a great cast for the role of the “nerd,” it was a wonderful movie for its genre. Of course, there is no depth, but it is perfect for what it is, a beautiful, down to earth, morally acceptable, trendy teen flick that leaves you with a good and encouraged feeling. Acceptable for all ages, although young kids may be bored with the story.
My Ratings: [Good/3]
—Misty, age 28
Positive—Very cute movie with a good telling. It helped my opinion of Hilary Duff. Too much body showing at times with various females; it could easily have been cleaner.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Ken Goding, age 19
Positive—There are so few movies made these days that you can watch with your children without having to explain something. Thankfully, this is one of them. I don’t remember anything offensive about it. I have read several reviews which rip this movie to shreds, and that’s just too bad. I went with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. This is a sweet story with a happy ending, and several hearty laughs along the way. My 3 daughters and I had a great time watching this one, and we’ll probably purchase the DVD when it comes out. Don’t let the poor reviews keep you away. Kudos to Richard Roeper for giving this a positive review! We need more movies that we can take our children to and not worry about inappropriate garbage coming at them. Thanks to Warner Brothers for releasing this… and please make more PG movies!!
My Ratings: [Good/3½]
—Kris, age 44
Positive—I saw this movie with my children. I found nothing offensive at all. It is the typical Cinderella story, and therefore a little predictable. I am telling all the other moms to take their daughters to see it! A good, clean movie!
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Anne, age 31
Positive—All right, I admit that Ever After is the most realistic version of the Cinderella tale, but “A Cinderella Story” is a good runner-up. This film reminded me of a sweet valentine because it is sweet in its own way. Do remember that Cinderella was never a ugly girl needing a make-over, it’s just that she was always in her work clothes. Keep that in mind when you see Hilary Duff play Sam. Frankly, I thought that Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murry were wonderful in their roles (and with each other)! This movie shows the real reasons why people should fall in love with each other: their hearts and minds. It was so refreshing that Sam and Austin fall in love without getting caught up in things like,” Is this person popular?” or “Oh, they’re not handsome/beautiful enough for me!” Another refreshing item in this movie was the absence of using magic to accomplish the impossible. From what I remember the language was pretty clean, but some outfits were a drawback.

Sam’s Dad tells her early in the film, “Fairy Tales don’t come true, but dreams do.” “A Cinderella Story” is about having the courage to believe in your dreams and being determined to make them come true, even if that includes standing up to your true love… and learning that your best look is being yourself!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Carolyn, age 18
Positive—I (Dad!) took my 11 yr. old daughter to see this film. Hillary Duff is very talented and does a great job. Some positive values that come through, even if on a sub-plot level, are Sam’s (Duff) willingness to put up with her “mean, manipulative, self-centered” step mom and sisters by bussing tables and cleaning floors at the diner, if only to honor the memory of her father, whom she loved. I thought she demonstrated patience and a Christ-like servant’s heart. Sam was humble and trustworthy, and I was not embarrassed in front of my daughter at how Sam behaved regarding Austin, her secret admirer. I was howling in laughter at several parts—slapstick and one-liners—See this movie with you daughter (yes and maybe your son) and you will have a springboard to a great conversation about boys/girls, relationships, and patience.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Richard, age 38
Negative

none

Comments from young people
Positive—I really liked this movie! I really liked cinderella as a kid, and this is a really cool variation of it. I already liked Hilary Duff as a singer AND actor, and this helped. I really suggest this to my friends!
My Ratings: [Good/4½]
—Kaitlyn
Positive—This movie was very cute. It really was like a modern day Cinderella. This would be great for all audiences. Especially for kids who like the show Lizzie McGuire or The Lizzie McGuire movie. Hilary Duff and Chad Micheal Murray did great together. They must’ve had lots of fun making this family movie.
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Allison Howard, age 14
Positive—I think this movie is very cute! I found nothing that was really offensive. Overall I think it is a great movie
My Ratings: [Good/4½]
—Sheila, age 14
Positive—I was pleasantly surprised in watching this movie. Sadly, there are very few teen movies that I would recommend, but this is one of them! Although meeting someone on-line can be a very dangerous thing, I liked that aspect of the movie because Sam and Austin fell in love with each other’s characters not merely looks! This had a biblical reference… man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Katie, age 16
Positive—I went to this movie for my little sister’s birthday expecting the classic “Cinderella story.” Much to my surprise, however, I thoroughly enjoyed it—it gave a fresh outlook to a classic story. There were very few immodest clothes, much less scenes. In short, I’d recommend this movie for all ages.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—E. K., age 13
Positive—…a cute story for tweens/teens.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Kailey, age 13
Positive—I have to agree with the contributor, Mrs. Callahan that Hilary Duff has certainly stepped her acting up a notch. While this movie really has no Christian references, it has high quality content and can easily be related to Christ in a number of ways with some creativity! There is definitely something special about this movie. I believe it’s the fact that Sam (Duff) knows that she doesn’t need a man to make her dreams come true, though it just so happens that she finds the perfect one. She’s not afraid to stand up to him either, even though he’s high-school’s incredibly popular football jock. I believe it’s Sam’s strength that gives Austin (Murray) the courage to break down the barriers that hold him back from her, and his dream of going to Princeton. This is definitely a great movie for chicks. I dragged my brother along with me and he appreciated it, but not as much as my best friend and me. Movie-wise, this is definitely worth seeing. It would be great if there were more direct Christian references, but as I’ve said previously, you will probably find it pretty easy to link the values in the movie to Christian ones.
My Ratings: [Good/4½]
—Kara, age 17
Positive—I love this movie!! Sam (Hilary Duff) portrays a “nerdy, unattractive high school senior.” That’s the only thing that isn’t very well cast, she’s none of those, but anyways… Austin (Chad Michael Murray) wants to get to know her. I think I can liken it to Jesus, and how we are totally unworthy, and he is the prince, but he still wants a relationship with us. I think that this is how we should go about our relationship with God, wanting him with all our heart as bad as we, as women, long for our “Prince Charming.” It’s good on a spiritual level and just for pure entertainment. I highly recommend this movie!
My Ratings: [Excellent!/4]
—Brittany, age 14
Positive—This film was awesome! I think anyone could see it! Hilary Duff is so cute!
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Kelly, age 12
Positive—My family and I went to see this film a few weeks after it came out. My sister and I love Hilary Duff. She seems so sweet and innocent. Her films produce a good message to teenagers and children under age. You leave feeling good and happy. You don’t leave feeling as though all the air has been knocked out of you and the your doomed for destruction. Hilary Duff proves that their is still some good movies out there. You just have to search for them. This film is great. I love the plot and everything is unexpected. I am definitely looking forward to it coming out on DVD.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Adison, age 16
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie. It was really cute, you laugh, you cry, it’s all good. It’s also good for any age. I’d totally recommend this movie to anyone.
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Alyssa
Positive—…cute and fun for families and teens but there are some negative and positive issues still… it seemed like all the negative issues seemed to be about kissing; for example, at the Halloween dance Sam’s (Hilary Duff’s) friend was shown kissing Austin’s (Chad Micheal Murray’s) ex-girlfriend but it didn’t last too long, thankfully and towards the end Sam and Austin were also kissing, but again it wasn’t too long

Positive: Sam’s dad always said something that told you shouldn’t hold back on your dreams just because you’re scared of being disappointed; that is a good lesson for life. Sam’s friend always was wearing a different costume through the film, but at the end he was just himself, and she said that she liked him as “him” and that’s also a good lesson to learn. Her partners at her job were always encouraging her to not give up… I recommend this movie greatly!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Jack, age 11
Positive—This movie was so awesome! I am a big fan of Hilary and loved this movie. It was really good and would recommend it for everyone. It is totally appropriate for younger viewers too!
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Jen, age 13
Positive—…a really good film! …I just saw that some people think Hilary Duff shouldn’t have been cast as Sam! But Sam isn’t a nerd! She is just a normal girl who tries to fit in! I mean is it any different from Lizzie! She was a normal girl who was trying to fit in! …I really liked this movie, and I would recommend it…
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Lindsay, age 12
Positive—This is my favorite movie ever! I saw it yesterday with my dad, and we both totally enjoyed it, it was awesome! They did a great job casting, and there were little or no swear words. If you’re thinking about going, go!!
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Miranda, age 14
Positive—I LOVED this movie!! Not as good as some, but pretty much as wholesome as they get now in days!! Hilarious and am going to see it again today!
My Ratings: [Excellent!/4½]
—Ashley, age 11
Positive—This movie was great. No curse words or anything bad. I am glad I got to see it. It shows the real problems that teens and pre teens have.
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Katie, age 11
Neutral—I went to this movie fully expecting to watch a teenybopper film. What I wasn’t expecting, was to be groaning in disbelief throughout the movie. First, for someone supposedly in a bad situation, Sam has it pretty good. She has her own car, cell phone, computer, and room. She also has a really cool job as a roller-skating waitress.

Secondly, I don’t think that this movie shows at all the joy of seeing someone from the inside out. Sam and Austin are both very attractive, while Sam’s friend Carter, who is not, fails to get the girl (Sam or the popular one) because of his social status and unattractiveness.

My other complaints were that the stepmother and stepsisters were unfunny, the movie dragged on far too long, and there were 6 songs played by Hilary and/or Haylie Duff.

As far as Christian values go, this is a pretty decent film. If you’re a girl under 12 and a Hilary fan, you’ll love it. If you’re not, and would like something more realistic, go rent “Ever After.”
My Ratings: [Better than Average/2]
—Allison Braund, age 16
Positive—This movie was excellent.It was a story about a typical teenager who’s dad passes away. Sam (Hilary Duff) really wants some attention from her step-mother, Fiona. Fiona treats her poorly, but Sam never lets it get to her. Sam shows a great Christian attitude and in the end gets what she wishes for, a new home!
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Katy, age 12
Positive—I loved it, but I have one comment! It needs a second movie!! All my friends agree! It is amazing, but really do consider my idea you will have soooo many people who will love it.
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Brooke, age 14