Reviewed by: Dave Rettig
“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