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The 2021 ‘Cinderella’- A Forgetful Wannabe Gen-Z Musical

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Warning: This review contains spoilers from Amazon’s ‘Cinderella.’

The last decade has offered us multiple live-action remakes of animated Disney movies. Be it ‘The Beauty and the Beast’ or ‘Aladdin,’ not every revamp can attain the popularity which matches its original animated version. Kay Cannon’s ‘Cinderella,’ sadly, sits out of the league too. 

The basic plot of this fairy tale is known to all of us from the OG Cinderella film—long ago in a kingdom lived a girl called Ella with her evil stepmother and annoyingly rude stepsisters with only dreams of escaping which too are fulfilled with the help of a fairy godmother and a charming, handsome prince. But what if the stepmother wasn’t mercilessly evil and could justify her actions with a sad background story? What if Cinderella wanted to do more in life than just marry the prince? This may sound like a good, feminism-driven plot twist to the original fairy tale but its execution in this Camilla Cabello starrer does not do justice to it at all. 

Right off the bat, this jukebox musical version is too loud and too fast. The entire 1 hour 53 minutes has scenes colliding into each other, highly untypical of a musical. Although one can see the similarity drawn from the infamous TikTok culture, with all the pop culture references and energetic dances on famous numbers, it just didn’t work for this Disney adaptation. From costumes to dialogue, and almost everything else in the basic plot, things and people have been revamped to attract the Gen Z crowd but the execution is a grand failure. The same audience whose attention was supposed to be grabbed by this musical is going to be the first ones to point out its shortcomings. The feminist perspective of the film falls short too because even though in the end Gwen is made the queen, for the majority of the film she is portrayed as a laughing stock with no seat at the big table and zero acknowledgement for her innovative, money-saving ideas. 

Coming to the lead herself, Cinderella is not your average village girl this time. She has a huge dream of starting her fashion line ‘Dresses By Ella’ which requires her to cross the widest oceans since her old-fashioned patriarchal kingdom refuses to make things easy for her. Apart from this, one other thing that comes off as particularly interesting is Cinderella’s hard work to achieve her dreams being fueled by a capitalist motive and not exactly her love for the process. She constantly keeps mentioning her desire to get out of her dingy basement and her passion to do business over other things more natural to the fairy tales, such as passion and love for designing dresses and the joy they must bring her. This capitalist desire is carried forth so much so that the lead even agrees to part ways with her beloved dead mother’s brooch, only because it looked pretty on the dress she was trying to sell. It thus points out another flaw in this revamped edition—the lack of emotional connection between Cinderella and her dead parents, the one thing that has made people empathize with and understand Cinderella’s forgiving nature over decades. 

The supporting cast of Idina Menzel, Pierce Brosnan, Nicholas Galtizine, Billy Porter does make an effort to lift the movie, and Idina Menzel here deserves a special shoutout but it still doesn’t do much. The entire narrative of the film keeps getting pushed off the track, thanks to performances on pop songs with absolutely no relation to the context of the scene they are played in. The charm of a musical lies in its original tracks, which proves true when we consider the popularity “Million To One” gained since the movie premiered on Amazon, one of the most important things that this 2021 remake lacks. 

The 2015 remake of the fairy tale was a warning enough to understand that sometimes, revamped versions just do not have the effect one would want them to have. Introducing tokenistic hip-hop, slang and woke culture to Cinderella made it more of a failure and did less to throw a spotlight on the problems the poor girl faced in a patriarchal world. Trying to make a fairy tale that has been going around since the 1950s more ‘relevant’ was never a good idea to begin with. Or at least not with the help of mainstream music!

Ishty Yadav

Delhi North '23

a Literature major from Hansraj, who passes time by romanticizing the minuscule.
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