Movie Review

Another Cinderella Story

MPAA Rating: PG for some mild sensuality and language.

Reviewed by: Lacey Mical (Callahan) Walker
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens
Genre:
Musical, Romance, Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 32 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
September 4, 2008
DVD release: September 16, 2008
Copyright, Warner Premiere Copyright, Warner Premiere
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Premiere

This film is a sequel to “A Cinderella Story” (2004)

Why won’t my parents allow me to single-date? Answer

What are the biblical guidelines for dating relationships? Answer

Teen Qs™ - Christian Answers for teenagers
Teens! Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.

True love

Couple in love. Photo copyrighted
What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Music in the Bible

Featuring: Selena Gomez, Andrew Seeley, Jane Lynch, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Marcus T. Paulk, Nicole LaPlaca, Donald Adams, Lynda Boyd, Lorena Gale, Laura Konechny, Camille Mitchell
Director: Damon Santostefano
Producer: Neal Dodson, Chris Foss, Michelle Johnston, Damon Santostefano, Dylan Sellers
Distributor: Warner Premiere

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. “Another Cinderella Story”—One can almost hear a sarcastic sigh behind the eye-roll inducing title. Hopes are not elevated for an encounter with a cinematic masterpiece when renting this limited theatrical release/direct to DVD teen flick, however an honest review has uncovered this film as a pleasant surprise hidden behind an unfortunate title.

This twist on the proverbial dead horse is centered around Mary Santiago (Selena Gomez), who is under the guardianship of has-been, aged pop starlet Dominique, after having been orphaned by her mother who was a stage dancer for the demanding diva. Dominique is the mother of two predictably obnoxious, cruel and, yes, ugly sisters, Britt and Bree, and Mary serves as chief cook and bottle washer in the ostentatious home shared by the four women.

Mary’s life is made more bearable by her ever-faithful friend, Tami, who marches to the beat of her own drum by wearing bizarre, hand-made creations and provides a refuge of camaraderie for Mary. In the safety of Tami’s orange VW bus, on the way to and from school each day, the girls confide in one another all their troubles and dreams, with cheesy giggles and teen-screen wisdom in constant supply.

At the start of the film, the high school attended by Mary, Tami, and the evil sisters Britt and Bree is all abuzz due to the return of former student and now teen idol Joey Parker (Andrew Seeley) who, having left the school to pursue a successful career as a singing and dancing pop star, has expressed a desire to “get back to his roots” and rejoin his classmates for his senior year. Fueling the excitement among the female student body is the announcement that Joey will be hosting a dance competition to choose a new cast member for an upcoming music video.

What Britt and Bree are about to find out is Mary, who has been secretly attending the same dance academy as they (by sneaking in through a back window and taking part in the lessons through a two-way mirrored wall in the studio), has inherited her mother’s dancing abilities and is a real competitive force as the girls eagerly attempt to win Joey’s attention—and his heart.

The similarities to the 2004 “…Cinderella Story” starring Hilary Duff are many: Mary’s goal throughout the story is to attend the school of her dreams, and it is achieving this goal which will finally remove her from the home where she is forced into servitude. Mary and Joey’s first face-to-face romantic encounter happens at a masked school dance. Dominique’s character is written very similarly to the one played by Jennifer Coolidge (the salmon fetish of Coolidge’s character is replaced in this version with a lust for crab puffs), although the two ladies play their parts quite differently and equally well. Numerous other comparisons can be made between the two films, but the overall flavor of each is quite different, as are the climaxes.

Another situation which can be found in both of these “Cinderella” stories is the odd choice of casting a young teenage girl opposite a mid-twenties young man. Gomez and Seeley were ages fifteen and twenty-five at the time of filming, and this age difference is glaringly obvious in their appearances. While Seeley’s character, Joey, is a senior in high school and only slightly older than Mary, one wonders why a younger actor was not chosen for his role.

Writers Erik Patterson and Jessica Scott peppered this story with a surprising dose of humor and some pleasing plot twists. Since it is inevitable that the guy will get the girl in this story (or vice versa), they pair up Joey and Mary and unveil the mystery rather early in the film, tossing in some additional obstacles and making the climax not centered on the revealing of Mary’s identity.

The “Cinderell-esque” elements might easily have been left out of the script entirely, and the film more aptly titled “Another Teen Dance Story,” yet one must assume that the same sort of deserved prejudice toward a reluctance to view “another” anything might apply.

Morality…

The Good

Joey is offered a mixed beverage and turns it down, saying, “I don’t drink.”

Joey is sweet and giving toward Mary in their relationship. He treats her with respect, and even spends an entire day helping her with a huge list of chores.

Morally, this story preaches that looks do not matter, but “who you really are” is what matters. This is a good message, yet whether or not this film actually practices what it is preaching is another matter. The “unpopular” heroines, Mary and Tamy, are unquestionably attractive, and it is less than believable that they would be less than popular in any “real life” high school. At the same time, all of the characters in the film which are portrayed as unsavory, rude, mean and socially inept also happen to be unattractive and badly dressed. This is, at best, a mixed message.

[I’m ugly. Why was God so unfair to me this way? Answer]

The Bad

The PG-rating is more than warranted, due to the smattering of profanity, including numerous uses of God’s name in vain. There is also some name calling, including the term “Tramp.”

In the opening scene, Mary is shown dancing in a midriff-baring top. The wardrobe is for the most part unusually modest through the rest of the film.

There are a few instances of sexual innuendo, including:

The fifty-something mother Dominique says to Joey, “Let’s duet… du-et… Get it? Du-et?!”

Joey and Mary spend time alone in her bedroom, sit on her bed and sing a song together, and Mary lies down on her back while Joey leans over her (standing) and says, “Let’s pick up again tomorrow, right here…” Mary: You mean cleaning the house or right here in this position?
Joey: I’m not that kind of guy.
Mary: Somehow I find that hard to believe.

Britt says to Joey, “Wanna make out?!”

A teenage boy fawns over Joey, shouting, “I love you so much!” and then vomiting from nervousness as Joey gets near.

A girl dances up against Joey inappropriately. This is barely shown on camera, and he quickly moves away so that she falls onto the floor.

My bottom line, this is a relatively decent and entertaining film, worth renting for teens who are old enough to have formed convictions in the areas of dating, relationships, and not judging people based on looks or popularity. Not recommended for children.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Although there are questionable moments in this film, on the whole I found it enjoyable. There are far worse movies for teens out there. I, personally do not find the word “tramp” offensive. In today’s world, the word is only mildly disturbing.

On the whole this story is an innocent love story, with absolutely no nudity or revealing clothing to be seen. I, agree, there are a couple of questionable scenes, where teens are kissing. The kissing is not passionate whatsoever, imo.

In this film we have the lovely Selena Gomez as Mary aka Cinderella, and the handsome Andrew Seeley as Joey aka Prince Charming. We have the wonderful Jane Lynch as Dominique aka the wicked stepmother. Then we have the talented Emily Perkins and Katherine Isabelle as the evil stepsisters, as well as Nicole LaPlaca as the mean girl who taunts our Mary. To bring balance to the group we have Jessica Parker Kennedy as the sweet Tami and Marcus T Paulk playing the friends of the leads.

This film is almost squeaky clean and does not go against my beliefs. I believe there is nothing in this film that would comprimise the beliefs of the target age group for this movie.…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kathleen, age 22
Positive— I truly believe that this movie was GREAT!!! Yet there always seem to be people that always have something bad to say about the young actresses which I still can’t understand why; I mean c'mon people who are we to judge? Isn’t that our #1 rule?

Now if you all wanna really pick on the teens for wearing something you do not like or judge the movie because they said “SLUT” please be real and don’t put the blame on them as if they are the ones who wrote the script… So many keep bringing up the teen roles but what about the adult role(s) in this movie??? Especially the one playing the “Step-Mother” part because did you all even pay attention to the bullying just from her alone the role she played was really cruel if you ask me!!! more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Carissa, age 29 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I watched about 15 minutes of this movie. The “dirty dancing” was EXTREMELY innapropriate, not to mention to heavy breathing and provocative behavior by the majority of the girls. I have watched every other teeny bopper type flick, and this does not even compare in the morality department—I am shocked that this is only rated PG. I was cringing from beginning to end, although it ended for me soon after it started. I don’t even want my 13 year old watching this.…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Maureen Jones, age 37
Comments from young people
Positive—I have mixed feelings about this film. There definitely is some questionable behavior in the movie by all. Overall, I found this movie entertaining. The actors were all wonderful.

I do not think any of the actors were less than attractive as mentioned in an earlier review. I felt that the “good” characters were attractive and dressed approptiately for their age. The “villans” in the movie were staged to be “character.” I personally thought Natalia is a beautiful girl, though a little mean, which I am sure is the character she was portraying. The stepsisters are very attractive, but were made up to be the 'ugly stepsisters'

As a Christian, I was a little taken back by some of the negative comments about the physical appearence of some of the actors. We are all God’s children, and were all created equal. I was taught not to judge others, and always say something positive.

I think this movie is a bit of a stretch from real life, but as a Christian teen, I enjoyed the movie and wish there were more films like this available for teens to watch. I think it gives a good message.

I did not feel the clothing worn by any of the actors was questionable at all. I do not consider a strapless gown inappropriate for older teen girls.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Rachel, age 16
Positive—I thought this was a good movie. It was better than average, because it wasn’t a movie where you constantly had to be watching for sexual content. Yes, I will agree that there was some provocation dancing, but it wasn’t enough to make this a terrible film. I can see why this was a direct to dvd film, because it didn’t do a very good job of grabbing your attention, but it was good. My overall rating is that the rating was perfect, and it was a overall positive film. (Viewers’ ages should be at least 8 to be able to understand what is happening.)
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Gabriel Carden, age 14
Positive—I really liked this movie! It was a clean (most part) movie. It’s about a girl who no one likes or loves, then this boy comes along and likes her for JUST the way she is. (Just like Jesus does.) The dances she did, were not “sexual.” It was a good clean cut movie, for a “worldly” view.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Leslie, age 16
Positive—I really liked this movie. I didn’t really think that there was anything bad about it. The dancing wasn’t sexual, and only two curse words were said and they were not the more offencive curse words either. It was a cute movie with a good messege and a more wordly view.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Mandy, age 15 (USA)
Positive—It wasn’t meant to be a christian film, and my little sister and brother watched—it’s not a bad movie. It’s AWESOME!!!… There are worse PG movies out there. Yes, there was some stuff, but it was a joke—almost every one in the movie was 16 or over.

Also, it was based off of teens these days… It even inspired me more to want to be an actress. I do believe in god, my whole family does—we are prayer warriors, and that movie did not poison any one whatsoever.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jazmin, age 13 (USA)
Neutral—This was not an awful movie, but it was not great either. Most of the clothing was either way too tight or showed a lot of body. The evil stepsisters and the friend are just plain out evil! There is a bunch of schemes with one of them, including making Mary think that Joey was cheating on her with the really pretty and mean girl. I mean a romantic dinner would have been fine, but did they really have to go that far??? There are some sexual parts. But, for the most part, this is not an awful movie, I just found it kind of dumb! Mabye 10+ years and up. Hope this helps!! :)
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Lauren, age 10 (USA)
Positive—I saw this at my friends house. It’s not for young children. It could be PG-13, but I enjoyed it. Selena Gomez did a great job!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kathryn, age 11
Positive—I really liked this movie. My friends and I rented it and we were all very impressed with the whole thing. The dance scenes were really well done. Mary and Joey were a joy to watch. Mary’s friend Tammy brought a ray of light to the story. I was not offended at all by the antics of Natalia Britt and Bree. I thought they were pulling relatively innocent (although mean) tricks on Mary, the good ultimately prevailed. In the end, Natalia redeemed herself and showed she really did have a heart. I also do not think the outfits worn by anyone were the least bit revealing for this day and age. I really liked some of the outfits.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Cally, age 16 (USA)