A Cinderella Story
A Cinderella Story
PG | 16 July 2004 (USA)
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Routinely exploited by her wicked stepmother, the downtrodden Samantha Montgomery is excited about the prospect of meeting her Internet beau at the school's Halloween dance.


Great Film overall


Pretty good movie overall. First half was nothing special but it got better as it went along.

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Portia Hilton

Blistering performances.


The movie really just wants to entertain people.

James Hitchcock

Recent years have seen a number of attempts to film traditional fairy tales in a "darker", more "adult" style, often influenced by fantasy epics like Peter Jackson's Tolkien adaptations, examples being "Snow White and the Huntsman" and "Maleficent", based upon the Sleeping Beauty legend. "A Cinderella Story", from just over a decade ago, is another fairy tale adaptation, but made in a very different style. The story is updated to the modern San Fernando Valley, California, the heroine is named Samantha, and the film is made as a traditional high school romantic comedy. That seems appropriate; American high school comedies are generally about as realistic as fairy tales- indeed, in some cases rather less so. (Samantha's surname is "Montgomery", possibly a reference to Elizabeth Montgomery who played a character named Samantha in the popular TV show "Bewitched"). One thing which always used to baffle me about the traditional legend of Cinderella is why her father did not intervene more decisively to prevent her from being mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters. If paternal affection had not motivated him to do so, surely social pride would have done; if there is one thing no aristocrat- however financially embarrassed or mild-mannered he might be- could bear, it would be seeing his daughter treated like a skivvy. The makers of this film seem to have had similar thoughts because Sam's kindly father Hal, the owner of a diner, is killed off (in an earthquake) before the end of the opening credits. This leaves Sam to the less-than-tender mercies of her unpleasant stepmother Fiona and her ugly stepsisters Brianna and Gabriella. (The adjective "ugly" in this context refers less to the girls' looks than to their obnoxious personalities). Fiona not only forces Sam to work as her unpaid domestic servant but also makes her work in the diner.Sam's problems are not confined to the home. It is a standard cliché in all high school comedies that every American high school is dominated by a clique of upper-class girls (invariably cheerleaders) and their athletic boyfriends (invariably football players; it would seem that prowess in other sports such as basketball, soccer or track-and-field does not confer the same social prestige). The members of this clique are always described as "popular", even though they invariably possess personality traits- snobbishness, vanity, arrogance and bitchiness- which in real life would doubtless make them extremely unpopular. Sam falls foul of this clique, particularly their leader Shelby, who mercilessly mock her for her working-class origins.The film tells the story, parallelling the original tale of Cinderella, of Sam's romance with Shelby's ex-boyfriend Austin, the handsome, popular star player of the school football team, who is the Prince Charming of this story. Sam's Fairy Godmother-equivalent is Rhonda, the kind-hearted manager of the diner, and the buttons figure is Carter, the bespectacled class geek. The school dance is the equivalent of the Prince's ball and a mobile phone stands in for the glass slipper."A Cinderella Story" did well at the box-office, but was not a hit with the critics. Roger Ebert, for example, called it "a lame, stupid movie", and I can see where he was coming from. It doesn't score highly for originality; turning an old, old fairy tale into a high school movie doesn't require much in the way of artistic inspiration. The characters are all stereotypes, and the male lead Chad Michael Murray is more Prince Charmless than Prince Charming. At one point the film seems to be moving to an ending in which Sam ends up with Carter, who seems to be much more sincerely in love with her than the rather shallow Austin. That would have been much more original, but the film-makers dared not break one of the oldest rules of the cinema. (The one which states that boys who wear glasses can be a girl's platonic best friend but never her love interest). The decision to follow the Cinderella story so closely leads to some plot-holes; is it, for example, plausible that her flimsy cardboard mask would have prevented Austin, or any of her other classmates, from recognising Sam, especially as she never tries to disguise her voice? (I mean, she's a girl in his year at school, not a complete stranger). On the plus side, there is some occasionally witty dialogue, and Jennifer Coolidge is amusingly nasty as Fiona, as is Julie Gonzalo as Shelby. Hilary Duff, a rising Disney star at the time, makes a sweet and personable heroine. (Her popularity was probably the main reason for the film's box-office success). It helps that at seventeen Hilary was the same age as the character she was playing, a departure from the normal movie convention whereby high school students are often played by actors in their twenties or even thirties. Overall, however, this is little more than a high school movie that reminds you of every other high school movie you've ever seen. 5/10

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Taylor Kingston

As I said in my summary line, this is one of my all-time favorite movies. It's just so fantastic. It's a great take on Cinderella with modern themes and it's just wonderful.In this movie, a young girl loses her father and her mean step-mother now has control over her life. With two wicked step-sisters to boss her around, Samantha is just sick of being treated this way. She starts having an online relationship with a guy from her school. She doesn't know who he is and he doesn't know who she is. It turns out that he's one of the most popular guys in school. When he asks her to meet her at the masquerade ball, they meet, connect, and even have a kiss. But since "Cinderella" wasn't supposed to be at the ball, she must run away before midnight, so she can get home to great her terrible family. She drops her cellphone and "Prince Charming" uses it to find out who the girl is. By the end, Samantha and her prince have began their proper relationship and her step-mother is now being controlled by her, since she lied about Samantha getting her father's diner in his will. Everything ends well.Overall, I give this movie a 10 out of 10.

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I didn't expect to like this film, but whenever it's on television, I'll watch it. It has most of the elements in the original tale, but Sam (Cinderella) actually has a brain and personality. I'm an English major and have experience in analyzing Children's Lit, so this intrigued me.The original portrays Cinderella as a naive slave who attracts a rich guy and in the end gets her dream guy by being a stereotypical submissive female. In this version, however, Sam and Austin (the prince) both have similar goals which actually involve going against society's expectations of them. Austin is supposed to play the role of the sporty son of a business man, but his wish is to go to college and embrace his natural talent for writing. Meanwhile, Sam is supposed to have an unending life of servitude to her step-mother, but ends up getting into college (the same one as Austin).One could interpret the college as the palace, but Sam is not permanently tied to Austin, as she ends the movie expressing that she's still young; therefore, this version could also be seen as feminist compared to its original. This story allows the Cinderella character to have her cake and eat it too.

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Tommy Nelson

Ugh. That's the only reaction that can be had to nearly every scene of this putrid, idiotic family film. Ugh!!! Sure, this thing is meant for kids, but there are a lot of films out there made to appeal to children, but also are intelligent enough to entertain the adults. This movie was not going for that. Children, mainly little girls, will eat up this unoriginal material, and laugh at the horribly acted slapstick, and enjoy Hillary Duff's nice character. But adults, the poor adults who happened to go to see this with their children, meanwhile will be cringing in their seats, wondering what life would be like if they didn't have kids, and contemplating suicide right then and there. This is just awful, sappy kiddie fluff, with no redeeming qualities.So basically, as the title would suggest, this is just a modern day, non-fantasy retelling of the classic Cinderella story. Hillary Duff plays Sam, a teenage girl who used to be happy when her father was alive, before he perished in an earthquake. Unfortunately, her father didn't have a will, and all of his belongings went to Sam's step-mother, and Sam was moved in the attic to make room for the step-mother and her two idiot step-sisters. Sam works at her father's old diner (now owned by her step-mother) and is a huge nerd at school. So, the most popular guy in school, Austin (Chad Michael Murray), and Sam are internet chat buddies, but neither of them no who their texting buddies are. They meet at a school dance, where Hillary Duff is disguised in her eye mask that certainly makes her unrecognizable. She has to leave at midnight to work, and Austin looks for his true love, while Sam tries to build up the courage to tell him. Predictability ensues.So, what good things can be said of this film? Hmmm, well, Hilary Duff isn't a great actress, but she does fine in this role, and so does Chad Michael Murray. And really, Jennifer Coolidge is fine as the wicked step-mother too. The movie was competently filmed and looked fine on an aesthetic level. So what's so bad about the movie? Everything else. The step-sister's were complete idiots, and their performances were so over the top it's actually hard to watch. Any jokes that are made by them is ridiculous and unfunny. Dan Byrd, who plays Carter, Sam's best friend, gives an alright performance, but when we are first introduced to him, he is like a wannabe rapper. Why? He's not like this for any more of the film, so was this character trait considered just too stupid and/or stereotypical to continue with, so they dropped it? Who knows, but it's odd and takes away continuity from the character. To add to stupid character traits, despite that this movie often tries to be a comedy, not one funny thing happens in this entire 90 minute film. Not one laugh, not one smile, not one smirk. This movie also raises many questions. How does Chad Michael Murray not recognize Hillary Duff in her costume? Why does her try to find who she is by holding an audition, instead of first asking her? Why does it start raining on a cloudless night when Hillary Duff and Mr. Murray start kissing? Why is the only clique at school the popular kids (consisting of 6 people) and the nerds (consisting of Sam, Carter and this weirdo Matrix obsessed fellow)? The answer to all these questions...this movie runs on clichés and is like a quilt stitched together from all the worst qualities of teen and kid movies that preceded it. This thing even has one of those horrible 80's clichéd montages where the character tries on clothing, and the other characters shake their head in disapproval, until they find just the right thing. It's just so bad!!!Little girls might enjoy this one, but everyone else will hate it. It's awful, even for a kid movie, and should not be viewed by anyone over 7. It's not cute, it's just really, really dumb.My rating: BOMB out of ****. 95 mins. PG for crude humor and mild language.

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