One of the cool things about being even a part-time entertainment critic is the ability to get to see and do things that I may not have been a part of if I wasn’t. Most of these experiences have been narrowed down to two things: film festivals and live theater performances. How film and theater overlap is the topic of discussion today with Kay Cannon’s interpretation of “Cinderella”.
Pop star Camila Cabello plays the title role, but there are a couple of differences in this version: 1 – Cinderella is not the shy and reserved girl we have known in the past, and 2 – given Cabello’s background, this is actually a jukebox musical (where a lot of songs that you know and love are woven into a story; most of them are themed on an artist, but this one is not). As she dreams of owning her own dress shop while living in a time where women doing business of any form is frowned upon, she catches the eye of Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine). Robert is under pressure to find a wife from his father (Pierce Brosnan) while his mother (Minnie Driver) tries to talk sense into the whole thing. Back on the other side of town, Cinderella deals with her domineering stepmother (Idina Menzel) while this version deals with the stepsisters (Maddie Baillio and Charlotte Spencer) more bickering with each other than taking out their frustrations on her. With her mice friends (James Corden, James Acaster, and Romesh Ranganathan), her fabulous godmother (Billy Porter), and little bit of magic, Cinderella sets out on her adventure… with choices to be made that have not been a part of the story before.
From songs like “Rhythm Nation” to “Let’s Get Loud” and “Somebody to Love,” I found myself enjoying this experience more than I expected to. (The sequence at the Prince’s Ball is worth it ALONE.) Galitzine and Cabello have very good chemistry with both showing the awkwardness that young adults tend to have with one another when there is attraction, and adding the class difference for the time making it that much more so. Brosnan and Driver are pretty great together too (and yes, I couldn’t get the scene they shared in “Goldeneye” out of my head… I know they didn’t share the screen, but they were in the same room) with Brosnan playing the king that just likes being king and getting his way while Driver plays the wife that is both a victim or circumstance trying to find her strength and knowing her marriage was more than just arranged.
In my comments after the screening, I did use the word “silly,” but I mean this in the BEST of possible ways. I laughed out loud more than once and found myself smiling all the way through. With the amount of films that have taken serious and even dark tones tending to dominate the landscape right now, “Cinderella” is truly the breath of fresh air that I think all of us may need to remember that it’s OK to just let yourself get taken away and have some fun.