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Film / Cinderella (2021)

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Fab G: Do you wanna go to that ball and meet a bunch of rich people who will change your life?
Ella: Yes, I was just crying and singing about it, like, two minutes ago.

Cinderella is a 2021 musical film written and directed by Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect). The latest in a long line of adaptations of Charles Perrault's classic fairytale, it was produced by Sony Pictures with the initial intent of theatrical release. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, it was purchased by Amazon Studios and released on Prime Video on September 3, 2021. The film is a Jukebox Musical featuring a mix of cover versions and original compositions.

The plot is a slightly updated take on the traditional story. Cinderella (Camila Cabello) is still a kind young woman under the thumb of her Wicked Stepmother Vivian (Idina Menzel) and two stepsisters (Maddie Baillio and Charlotte Spencer), but now she is an aspiring dressmaker who wants to start her own business. Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) is uninterested in ruling and wants to Marry for Love, but his father King Rowan (Pierce Brosnan), favors him as the heir over his more competent younger sister Princess Gwen (Tallulah Greive), to the disapproval of his wife Queen Beatrice (Minnie Driver).

In an attempt to find Robert a bride, the King and Queen throw a ball. Vivian prevents Cinderella from attending, but the Fabulous Godmother (Billy Porter, marking the first time the character has been played by a man on film) intervenes. He transforms one of Cinderella's designs into a ballgown and her talking mice friends (James Acaster, James Corden, and Romesh Ranganathan) into footmen, and away they go. While at the ball, Cinderella charms the prince and the attendees, but is also offered a job to make dresses for a visiting queen. When the clock strikes twelve and the magic inevitably wears off, Cinderella must now fight to achieve her dreams.

Previews: First Look, Trailer.

Cinderella (2021) contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Diversity:
    • Here, Cinderella is played by Latina Camila Cabello, with a number of Black supporting characters (including her Fairy Godmother being Billy Porter, who is his usual Camp Gay self), unlike most depictions where the cast is all-White.
    • The signs of the vendors' booths in the village are in languages like Chinese, Italian, Spanish, and German.
    • One of the women at the ball is Indian.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • In this version, the stepsisters are not driven by jealousy when picking on Cinderella. They only do it because of their mother. When the mother isn't around, the stepsisters can act nice towards Cinderella. Heck, they even do some of the chores themselves.
  • An Aesop:
    • Marriage isn't the Be-All-End-All. Love is.
    • Showing someone you love them means being willing to look absolutely ridiculous sometimes.
  • Anachronism Stew: The film appears to be set roughly in the 19th century, yet many of the costumes mix fashion trends from different time periods (some of the formal dresses wouldn't be out of place at a 21st century prom), the dialogue is peppered with modern slang, and all the musical numbers are pop and rock songs from the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • Androcles' Lion: The butterfly Ella saves at the beginning of the film turns into Fab G.
  • Canon Foreigner: Prince Robert is given a sister here, Princess Gwen, who has a side plot about wanting to become more involved in the kingdom's politics. In the end she's named the heir to the throne so that Robert can go travelling with Ella.
  • Cinderella Plot: This is a Cinderella adaptation after all.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Rowan informs his son there is a play about him called "The King's Idiot Son", Robert doesn't realize it is about him and instead asks if they can still get tickets.
  • Costume Porn: Fitting for a film where the main character dreams of becoming a seamstress.
  • Covers Always Lie: As seen on the page image, the poster depicts Ella's ballgown as a purple/lilac color, but in the movie itself the dress is pale pink.
  • Easily Forgiven: Everybody. The stepfamily, the King, everybody responsible for the protagonists' woes is either forgiven or forgotten entirely by the end.
  • Fairy Godmother: As is expected of any Cinderella adaptation, however this time there’s a slight twist with the character now genderless and named "Fab G".
  • Gender Flip: Sort of. The Fairy Godmother has been traditionally portrayed by a woman in most versions of Cinderella. The film has a genderless version of the character known as Fabulous Godmother but is portrayed by male actor Billy Porter.
  • Heir Club for Men: The reason the King tries to strongarm Prince Robert into a good marriage and the throne, despite having a politically-minded and problem-solving-inclined daughter in Gwen? Robert is a guy, and Gwen is a girl. He sees reason by the end.
  • Informed Flaw: Cinderella is called such because her face is constantly smeared with dirt...allegedly. Her skin is always as clear as her stepsisters'.
  • Jukebox Musical: From the "Rhythm Nation/You Gotta Be" mashup at the opening to the "Let's Get Loud" finale. Except for the Town Crier's rapping.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The script is constantly making fun of itself as well as all fairytale logic. There are too many instances to name.
  • Not Like Other Girls: Ella has hints of this. She's apparently the only woman in town who openly has ambitions beyond getting married, seeking to open her own dressmaking business and wanting to attend the ball to find buyers rather than woo the prince (unlike most of the other attendees). She even gets a song titled "Million to One" that is all about her desire to stand out ("If it's a million to one, I'm gonna be that one").
  • Pimped-Out Dress: The film is full of stunning dresses, the opening scene of the ball a particular stand out as well as Fabulous Godparent's orange ensemble.
  • Rejected Marriage Proposal: When Robert proposes to Ella at the ball, she turns it down when he says she'd probably have to give up her dream of running her own dressmaking business, as it wouldn't be considered 'proper' for a princess. In the end, Robert gives up his claim to the throne so he can travel around with Ella and support her while she sells her designs, with the implication they'll marry at some point.
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: The cellist at the ball, who starts playing her instrument like a guitar partway through, does this at the end of "Whatta Man/Seven Nation Army".
  • The Song Remains the Same: With the exception of the rapping town crier, all the songs are left untouched in the foreign dubs.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Queen Tatiana is black and Russian/Slavic.
  • The Un-Favourite: As is typical for any “Cinderella” production, Cinderella is neglected and abused by her stepmother.
  • Wicked Stepmother: This being a Cinderella adaptation, the title character of course gets one of these: Vivian, who scorns Ella's dressmaking ambition and tries to force her into an unwanted marriage. This time, the character is played by Idina Menzel. She's given a bit of a backstory and an explanation for her cruelty.