Movie Review

Ever After: A Cinderella Story

Reviewed by: Dave Rettig
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Romantic Fantasy
Length:
121 min.
PG

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, Dougray Scott, Patrick Godfrey, Megan Dodds, Melanie Lynskey, Timothy West / Director: Andy Tennant / Released by: 20th Century Fox

“Once Upon A Time…” begins the classic tale of Cinderella, hapless victim of a cruel stepmother and wicked stepsisters. This time do not look for fairy godmothers or magic pumpkins and mice, and Cinderella may not be the demure damsel portrayed by Disney. Cinderella, AKA Danielle (Drew Barrymore) is a spunky, independent young woman who reads Sir Thomas More’s “Utopia” and dreams of running the estate of her deceased father sans stepmother and stepsisters. Prince Charming Henry (Dougray Scott) is a young man struggling to define his own identity in the midst of an arranged marriage and a domineering father. When the two meet, a twisted tale of class struggle, political power brokering and love mix in this retelling of the Cinderella classic called “Ever After: A Cinderella Story”.

A suprisingly well assembled cast along with some original additions to the Cinderella tale make “Ever After” captivating despite any previous exposure to the story. Anjelica Huston makes one mean stepmother, shockingly icy and venomous at times. So well portrayed is the wicked stepmother than you cannot help but be endeared to young Danielle. Drew Barrymore is a master of (acting) youthful innocence and her simple sweet smile was everything I needed to forget some of the racier characters she has played. Even the “bit parts” we filled with charming characters, from quaint country folk to legends from the annals of history. Don’t expect history here though; remember this is a fairy tale (and at some points quite anachronistic) but a lively retelling of a well loved story.

“Ever After: A Cinderella Story” contains two instances of profanity, some violence, and some adult topics (including some sexual innuendo). In spite of the above, I was pleased to see positive (albeit brief) references to Christian values. There is even a mention (and I quote) of “the Son of God”! There is a brief instance of prayer and a mention of the positive role that Christian monks played in the education of society. This does not excuse the negative and sometimes too frequent sexual innuendo (which many viewers did not even notice, however) but it was good to see Christianity displayed somewhat openly and positively!

“Ever After: A Cinderella Story”” was originally rated PG-13. However, the video version is slightly edited to make it a PG rating. Even with this in mind, however, some topics are better left alone with younger audiences. But otherwise a great film with some positive references to the Christian faith—perhaps you could use this to discuss your Christian faith with a friend!

Year of Release—1998

Viewer Comments
almost a “G” rating
…I reluctantly went to see it because of previous Drew Barrymore roles and the fact that a fairytale movie was rated PG. I also expected much foul language and sex/nudity throughout the movie, but was VERY pleasantly surprised to find an extremely well made, clean movie with just 2 uneeded words and sex that consited of a few romantic kisses. It contained a great moral value mixed with romance and comedy. As soon as the movie was over I asked myself why it was rated as it was. As Christians, there will never be a movie that is completely acceptable by our standards, but as far as movies go today… Ever After is one that I would recommend to anyone that wanted to see a fun romantic movie with little of what the” world “puts value on.
—Angela, age 17
Ever After was undoubtedly overdone in some ways, but we saw it as a gem for post-movie family discussion. For example: 1. How is Danielle’s story like the Gospel? Answer: It has beautiful similarities. Peter Kreeft has said—Christianity is not a hypothesis, it is a proposal of marriage. In the Kingdom of God we are all brides and we’re all rescued from a master crueler than the Countess and swept off our feet by His love. Question 2: Exactly how should each Christian’s heart tell him or her to rewrite the film’s ending? Answer: To add the element of forgiveness for the Countess, which would have run counter to their natural desires but proved their true nobility—just as the spirit of forgiveness marks all true children of the Real King. We loved this movie for its “discussibility.”
—Ed Morgan, age 55
My 11 year-old daughter is forever clamoring to see a PG-13 movie, yet the inappropriate behaviors and language abound so much in the typical PG-13 rated film that this is not an option for her. However, after her aunt and I went to see Ever After, I realized that my daughter was in for a big treat! What a beautifully photograghed movie, with almost no swearing, no nudity, and the most engaging and gentle characters, (sans the superb Anjelica Huston as the step-mom.) I’m sure that the Shakespearean English they use accounts for the rating. My 7-year-old son would never be able to sit through all those “thee's” and “thou's.” But, I am very much looking forward to a mother/daughter outing to share this film with my 6th grader. Encore!
—Lynn Stone
why PG-13?
I don’t understand why this movie was rated PG-13. I only watch PG or G movies but went to see this “Ever After” because a friend assured me, after watching it 5 times, that I wouldn’t find it objectionable. She was right. I loved it. I laughed and cried and was thoroughly entertained, even though I don’t care for Barrymore. They did not use the Lord’s name in vain which is so common even in PG movies. The skin that was shown was for historical costuming, no one was killed and the love Danielle had for her father and her mother’s memory was very touching. I would not be ashamed to take my grandchildren to see this movie.
—Maureen, age 52
When I told our near-13-year-old daughter we were going to see this movie she groaned. No interest. However, I insisted, and every time I looked over during the movie she had a big grin on her face. I’m not sure who enjoyed it better, but enjoy it we did! Good clean fun, and I have no clue as to why it wasn’t a PG flick.
—Rudi Thomas Floyd, age 52
I saw “Ever After” about a week ago and really liked it! I cannot see how it got a PG-13 rating. Compared to the few other PG-13 movies I have seen (along with many “PG”'s) this film was very mild. It easily could have passed with a PG rating. The main character, Danielle, was inspiringly unafraid to speak what she believed. I didn’t catch any “sexual innuendo,” unless that was what they were referring to with the sly flirtatiousness of one of the stepsisters. It was great to see that the heroine and “Prince Charming” weren’t two knock-outs—they looked normal! I wouldn’t advise taking really young children to see it (like under 10/11 yrs). It was a beautiful twist on the traditional story; realistic and yet a fairytale. I really like being able to see films that you can come away from feeling really good and wearing a smile!
—Andrea, age 15
I am not a Drew Barrymore fan and expected to be extremely offended by this film. I expected a lot of profanity and probably some nudity. But I was pleasently surprised to find very little offensive material in this film. I am a romantic at heart, and got caught up in the romance and drama. There was very little profanity. I would not hesitate to take a older child to this film. I intend to buy this movie when it comes out on video. This is a wholesome, feel-good film. I am glad I took the time to see this movie. When I buy this movie on video, I will watch it again and again. If you want to see a good romance, without a lot of offensive sexuality and bad language, I would definitely recommend seeing this movie.
—Lisa Sutter, age 22
I loved this movie. I’m 17 and I didn’t catch the “sexual inuendos” so they definitely weren’t that obvious. It was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while and it definitely contained less offensive material than any other PG-13 movies I’ve seen lately and even a few PG. Although it didn’t promote Christianity in any way, I didn’t catch it critizing it either. I’m not into romance movies and had no desire to see this one but after being forced to see it, I’d gladly go see it again.
—Jennifer, age 17
I went to see this movie with an adult friend and my sister, age 10. All three of us enjoyed it—and I found it refreshing; hardly any profanity and no sex (although Margerite does seem quite eager to show off her, ah, chest to the prince.) I didn’t find Christianity to be a very significant part of the movie, but thought it was positive when Danielle said a brief prayer for strength before trying to get her friend releaased from the shipment to the Americas. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and would reccomend it.
—Torey, age 15
Ever After was one of the best movies I have ever seen. It had no sex, minimal violence and not many cuss words. I have seen PG movies with more. It was very beautifully written with the sweetest love story I have seen in a long time. I have taken three friends and my mother to see it and even though I have seen it three times I would still love to see it again. I give it two thumbs way up!
—Natalie Pope, age 14
a refreshing change
I am a person who doesn’t often got to see modern movies because of the excessive sex, violence and profanity. I found Ever After to be a refreshing change. It had a good story, a great lead character; no sex, nudity and very little profanity. I would recommend this movie to any of my Christian friends.
—Traci, age 30
This was the best movie I have see in a long time. It was so wholesome and clean, yet at the same it was such a beautiful love story. The whole theater laughed out loud at some points and I cried several times. I am planning on buying it as soon as it comes out and I wouldn’t hesitate to let children watch it. As to some of the other coments I read—I don’t think Christianity was a very large point of the movie in either a good or bad way. It was just a few passing comments. If there were any sexual inuendos they were so concealed they went over my head and the language was fine. At the end Danielle asks for her step family to be treated with the same courtesy (or lack of it rather) as she had always been treated with. This would be a good opportunity to talk to children about forgiveness rather than retribution when we have been mistreated. However, I think the retribution meeted out was certainly just as well as funny.
—Lael Harrelson
I loved “Ever After.” I thought it was one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. It was funny, and sad. It had no offensive scenes. It was a very clean, cute family movie, although it might go over young kids' heads. I highly recommend this movie. But if you go to see it beware—you might have to bring some kleenex because some scenes are really sad. There is also some violence but you could see worse in a PG movie.
—Melissa, age 12
a healthy look at romance
I LOVED this movie! It had a healthy look at romance and relationships, comedy, and a delightful sense of wonder! I was captivated by the characters and absorbed by the story. I am by no means a feminist, but I found Danielle’s willingness to stand up for what she believed in very refreshing and inspiring whether it was historically correct or not. In fact, I agreed with several of her views (i.e. equality, freedom, respect, appreciation for human life, the need for strong family ties). It was in a lot of ways, still a fairy-tale, but after-all it was supposed to be. If you are expecting a riveting historical document, you probably won’t find what you were looking for. However, if you want a few hours of light-hearted enjoyment and a peak into the mind of every fantastical dreamer, with a few laughs along the way, this is the movie for you!
—Kristin James, age 18
Great Movie
I will watch this one again and again. Great story, very little offensive material (even one instance of praying!), and has a happy ending. I wouldn’t take small children, the story might go over their heads, but older children would be fine. I went with my mother and grandmother and they both loved it as well. (and my mother can’t stand Barrymore, so that’s saying something!)
—Megan, age 19
looks down on Christianity?
With the exception of the scene in the monastic environment, _Ever After_ looks down on Christianity. Its heroine learns to read (quite a feat in those days). So she reads… “Utopia”? She admits herself that she is not into religion, and speaks with 90’s feminist sensibilities. Even in the monastary, she’s more astounded at the number of books in their library than the devotion they held to Christ. There _are_ great stories out there of heroic, virtuous Christian women in the Middle Ages. Pick up and read about Theresa of Avila, Joan of Arc, or Catherine of Sienna. We don’t need to see modernizations of great women who weren’t “modern”, i.e., secular, p.c., and feminist. We need examples of women (and men) who totally gave of themselves to Christ, no matter the cost.
—Nicholas Kleszczewski
Cinderella’s self-confidence out of line?
It is suprising to me how many parents take their 5-7-9-11 year old children to PG-13 movies. It is PG-13 for a reason, it’s not meant for anyone under the age of 13, especially not Christian children. I was also amazed at the one comment about Cinderella’s “self-confident” attitude. We should have God-confident attitudes and realize our weakness so that He can be glorified through us with His strength. This really saddens me that so many don’t take seriously the statement “Be Holy for I am Holy” from scripture and not partake of things that aren’t Holy.
—Jason Hand, age 30
wholesome and entertaining
I loved this movie. I thought it was wholesome and very entertaining. You have to be looking to find any negative criticism. I still am not used to the expression “Oh my God” when one is not calling out to God. It may have been used twice. I hear it more in a night at my Church than I did in this movie. Although I don’t condone its use, it probably won’t be noticed by most people. I only remember one instance of sexual innuendo, but I can’t imagine any child would interpret what was said sexually. I immediately went home and told my daughter that she had to see it. I’d go see it again if my son thought he would want to go. Not your typical Drew Barrymore film as of late, from what I gather reading the video boxes at the store. She should keep at acting in this type of film. I would think this film would be best attended by a father and his daughter.
—Brent Bubar, age 39
recommendable
I found the movie to be very well made. I took my 13 year old daughter, she loved it. I was pleased to see no nudity, no pre marital sex, no damn in front of our God’s name!!!… I would recomend this movie for todays Christian teen, and adult.
—Sherri, age 30
highly entertaining and recommended
…The story takes some incredible twists and turns but proves in the nature of fairy tales that love does conquer all. For a change, I found myself leaving the theatre smiling as opposed to being ready to plunge into a deep depression. Although “Ever After” does not have a lot of meaty subplots, it does keep the viewer highly entertained. The intricate use of humor and dazzling performances by Drew Barrymore and Anjelica Huston propel the story line. If you’re looking to take a short journey into the land of make believe, buy a ticket to “Ever After” and leave reality for a while.
—Rachel Menillo
missed all the “sexual innuendo”
I saw Ever After without my 7 year old daughter because of the PG-13 rating, the following week I went back to see it again… this time with my daughter. What a beautiful movie, and how nice to see Drew Barrymore looking like a lady! There were some excellent performances, Anjelica Huston was wonderfully wicked and the stepsisters' characters were very good. There were some very funny lines and hillarious flirtations, but I seem to have missed all the “sexual innuendo.”
—Cheryl, age 39
very little offensive material
Enjoyed this movie immensely, as did my two daughters, ages 9 and 11. This movie had a good script, was well directed, and had very good photography. This movie contained nothing offensive to me, other than a few strong words and the potrayal of a very unkind step-mother to Cinderella. This movie may have deserved a rating of PG-13, due to one or two dark characters, but there was no nudity. This movie portrayed a young woman, as being strong, self confident and intellegent and overcoming all obstacles.
—Debra Davis, age 36