Cinderella (2021) is to jukebox musicals what minesweeping is to pub etiquette.

Cinderella Review

Having the title character of your well-known story sing a song with the repeated refrain “You’re Going To Know My Name” reeks of redundancy, a redundancy which plagues this lacklustre retread of CINDERELLA from the first frame to the very last. Writer/ Director Kay Cannon may have been the author of all three PITCH PERFECT films but here she strikes every bum note imaginable to deliver a movie that manages to somehow be even worse than the James-Corden-as-a-crotch-thrusting-rat-in-traffic viral video that preceded it.

Once upon a time in an unnamed kingdom, an ambitious young woman named Ella (Camila Cabelo) dreams of starting her own dress design business but alas the laws of the kingdom forbid it and the King (Pierce Brosnan) is more interested in arranging a politically beneficial marriage for his son Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) than embarking on any kind of progressive reform programme.

Kay Cannon’s CINDERELLA is so multifacetedly awful that you could easily believe an evil fairy godmother had fluttered down and drained whatever magic there was, turning everything into the cinematic equivalent of mice-infested pumpkins. It’s a cheap, lazy and derivative jukebox pantomime that has more than a whiff of village hall AmDram about it and while Cinderella is often portrayed in having to make do with hand-me-down rags, the degree to which this movie deludes itself that it’s doing something clever and modern and relevant when everything it attempts was done – far, far away better – in 2004’s ELLA ENCHANTED is honestly almost impressive. With song choices so crassly obvious that you don’t need to be the musical director of HOMES UNDER THE HAMMER to guess what song the cast are going to brutalise next, you’ll be wishing every showstopper would indeed stop the show.

An eclectic cast fails to make for quirky performances and – with the glorious exception of criminally (or mercifully?) underused Billy Porter – nobody emerges from this decidedly grim fairy tale with any credit. Camila Cabelo makes for an adequate heroine during the speaking parts, with encouraging but dispiritingly infrequent glimpses of decent comic timing but when it comes to singing – or, let’s be honest, lip-synching – she’s conspicuously terrible. Her slack-jawed wobbly-lipped warbling style may play well in music videos but cinematically it’s visually distracting and deeply irritating. The rest of the cast seem to divide into two camps: odd or hammy, the latter group spearheaded by Brosnan and the aforementioned Corden, although the only notes most of them seem to have got from their director were “more awkward” or “weirder”. Surprise cast members include Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan, whom you can see die a little inside every time he’s on camera, making you wonder if their appearance is just another stunt for their ROB & ROMESH VS series.

The script is clumsily preachy, comedically misjudged (a Barry Cryer joke seems egregiously off-pace for the intended audience) and so devoid of imagination that the majority of characters share their names with the performers who play them. James Acaster only plays a “character” called John because it was originally cast as John Mulaney. None of the characters act consistently or with any kind of logical progression but then that’s an inconsistency they share with the tone of the film which never seems sure what it’s meant to be, even when it self-consciously attempts a degree of ironic self-awareness.

The best that can be said about the camerawork is that it does the script and the performance justice, but whatever wit and wisdom Cannon brought to bear on PITCH PERFECT and BLOCKERS seems to have deserted her here and left her, cinematically speaking, shitting in the woods.

score 2




  1. ManInBlack September 8, 2021

    When you say a “Barry Cryer joke” – do you mean a joke ABOUT him or a joke written BY him?

    • Craig Holton September 8, 2021

      A joke referencing him. If only the film had had some jokes written *by* him!

      • ManInBlack September 8, 2021

        Ta! That is a bit of a random reference for an American film (or is it a British film with a yank star?)

        • Craig Holton September 8, 2021

          American film with a lot of obscure Brits in its cast but the writer/ director is American so it’s a real puzzler.

          • ManInBlack September 8, 2021

            Something else we blame James Corden for perhaps? 😛

          • Craig Holton September 8, 2021

            I’ll add it to the list

Comments are closed.