‘Cinderella’ Review: In a Kingdom Somewhere in the Early 2000s

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Warning: This review contains spoilers. 

In a kingdom far, far away, somewhere just north of lifesize Barbies granted visitorial rights out of their caged boxes only if they slip prom queen tiaras onto their bouncy, sandy-blonde curls and too far east upon their getaway cars being anything besides a convertible is the early 2000s. That bubblegum, sans filter saturated era rarely few have been able to pop as tweeters monthly urge others to pick their comfort fighter. Hilary Duff is Lizzie McGuire, Amanda Bynes a cheese connoisseur (“My favorite’s gouda.”), Anne Hathaway’s running a country with help from her 25-pound tabby cat, and Lindsay Lohan is a rosy-cheeked mirage of all five of her roles being timelessly frozen at the age of seven-tween.

Camila Cabello, however, is the odd-one-out. Her slim-thick frame hasn’t been churned through Disney’s make-em-a-star factory, her talent show arrival missed the mark by about three years, and before now, her resume was a repetition of “Havana, ooh na-na” in one’s head as if they were rumbaing in a smoke-screened, Latin-pop club. Have you whipped out a yellow highlighter? Cool. Make a thick line around ‘before now’ as out came her rendition of Cinderella, not only her acting debut but also as the girl who is hosting a caterpillar for funsies. 

“You’re gonna know my name —” er, Ella (?) sings. Gotta remember, most of us recognize her from the princess-fleshed title rather than the two-syllable, punchy sense of anonymity, another less than accommodating note in the not-belonging-to-y2k-culture column. It’s right on top of the lackluster dungeon bedroom set up devoid of celebrity-splattered mosaics cut up from magazines glued to a bright pink wall; pudgy mice voiced by James Corden, James Acaster, and Romesh Ranganathan replacing chihuahua dogs peeking their beaded eyes out of Chanel handbags. Of course, the cool mom isn’t offering up fruity mocktails. This is post her second husband where life has taught Idina Menzel a bitter lesson: don’t marry for money, and you’ll be cheated on, do, and you’ll end up with a pretty decent house with a hot, hot farm guy in the farm who was hot (thanks, Summer Roberts) yet extremely off-limits (but, remember, growth!)

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That’s a heck of a debate for the glass-slipper shifting back into a roller skate best suited for roaming around Fiona’s diner in A Cinderella Story. Yeah, okay. Get that. On the other, raise of hands if you clicked Nicholas Galitzine’s confusing Twitter follow button somewhere in the 110-minutes! My honor, he, the prince, has a pierced ear, a knack for jestingly challenging his dad, and seemingly cares a lot about finding love. The right love, unlike the bewitchery Miss Universes’ showdown mashup of Salt-N-Pepa’s “Whatta Man” and The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” An aggressive tug-of-war that impressively represents celebrity and worshipper’s sacrificial tie, Instagram scroller, and the in-your-face bombardment of ravishing, animalistic photos. 

Where’s the other kind? Head flick right. Head flick left. Perhaps, hidden where the throwback touches of the early 2000s lit up in a chandelier room holding a grand piano in its center. They’ve been missing this, the generation force-fed Netflix originals that never really hit the bar, and there are exceptions, eyeing Five Feet Apart, but the echoing simplicity of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” juxtaposed against the ripping apart of star-crossed lovers gives you that same butterfly somersault as the rain finally blessing a California spotted sky in the middle of a drought. Whimsical, delicate — the cinematography, a sequence of artistic closeups only heighten it. An additional contributing reason is the teasing of similarities between the two; while the running time of the film doesn’t let the idea be extended, the emotional vulnerability of both of them having narcissistic parents is thought-provoking.

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One can’t glance over the girl boss energy it exudes either. In fact, a clip where current Ella spots her future self setting up a dress shop beautifying in a scattered flower petal ensemble, choker included, is reminiscent of the ‘talking to your younger self’ — aka everything turned out good, kid — TikTok trend. Cabello does so in a humbling glow, alternatively offering up a theory that the timelined hallway of her own career, having started at the age of 15, is the gurgled-up essence she bestows to her portrayal. The thing, too, is that it doesn’t force the vision boards down our throats. It’s tied together with quirky, fairy floss fabric. The town crier highlights its multicultural backbone through rapping news tidbits against an all-female band backing. Tallulah Greive is the pop-up, annoying sibling that’s probably gonna hit the protesting marches on the weekend with a VSCO-gal hydro flask. Sure, there are some eyes-flicking-towards-your-phone moments, probably could’ve done without Pierce Brosnan’s lack of vocal cords, but overall, it’s the family-friendly shot of nostalgia it aimed to be.

Cinderella is now streaming on Amazon Prime. 

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By Rachel
Joining the Nerds and Beyond team back in February 2019, Rachel Finucane graduated university with a Bachelor of Arts (Humanities) majoring in Screen Arts. She’s been passionate about all things television and film-related since penning her first Neighbours fanfiction aged twelve, before inevitably taking that pen to dabble in fashion, sports, and music. She can be spotted on Twitter at @rachelfinucane_.
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