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Film / Rags

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Rags is a Nickelodeon Original Movie produced in the year 2012.

It's a Cinderella Gender Flip set in modern day New York, starring Keke Palmer, Max Schneider, Drake Bell, Avan Jogia, and Burkley Duffield. The movie premiered on Nickelodeon on May 28, 2012.

Charlie lives with his cruel stepfather and his two stepbrothers, where they own and operate his deceased mother's restaurant. Charlie dreams of being a musician, but is forced to clean and work as his stepbrothers practice their own musical act. One day, he gets a job as a janitor at a record company's building, where he starts to become friends with the popstar Kadee Worth, who herself is dreaming of breaking from the mold and being herself. Charlie finally has a chance to accomplish his goals, but his stepfather has other ideas...

This work provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: While most of his nastiness is directed at Charlie, Arthur still has the tendency to pick on Lloyd as well, yelling at him in several scenes and not intervening when Andrew physically attacks him. At the end, when Lloyd starts spilling Arthur's secret to Charlie, he snaps at him and Lloyd recoils in fear, protected by Diego and Martha. Arthur's treatment of Lloyd brings him and Charlie closer together, in fact; after Arthur shouts at him during a rehearsal, a dejected Lloyd seeks comfort in talking to Charlie, who witnessed the whole thing and can certainly relate.
  • Allegiance Affirmation: Throughout the film, Lloyd has proven to feel sympathy for Charlie, but he's also stuck following his dad and brother- the ones antagonizing Charlie. When they both turn on him and kick him out of Android, he finally turns on them in response, announcing to an entire crowd of people that Arthur had been lying to Charlie for years. He ends the film as a backup dancer for Charlie, cementing their new relationship.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Subverted. While not actually true about Kadee, as she falls for Nice Guy Charlie, he fears that she wouldn't actually want someone like him, but a "good-looking famous guy who'll be mean to them", because "girls are weird like that."
  • Almost Kiss: Charlie and Kadee almost kiss on the bus when a bump pushes them close together, but are suddenly interrupted by a bystander who happens to recognize Kadee.
  • Anti-Interference Lock Up: Arthur manages to distract Charlie for long enough to lock him in a closet, minutes before Kadee can begin her search for Rags, knowing that Charlie is Rags. This way, his stepbrother Andrew can take credit for the persona and Charlie stays in his lowly position. While he's rescued by some friends, they're too late to stop Andrew from convincing everyone he's Rags.
  • Attention Whore: Kadee's "boyfriend", Finn, is only dating her as a contractual obligation. He's in it solely for the spotlight, and it shows when he gleefully greets the crowds and reporters that meet them outside an event while Kadee just wants to get inside, how he pushes her to the side so he can get some solo-pictures, and how his biggest gripe when Kadee stops spending time with him is that "Rags" is on all the magazines instead of him.
  • Bad Bedroom, Bad Life: Charlie's bedroom is in the attic of their house/restaurant. It's small, cramped, and sparsely decorated, and helps to highlight his status among his family.
  • Bait-and-Switch: After Andrew successfully tricks everyone into thinking he's Rags and Charlie sadly tries to walk out for good, Kadee asks him to stay so she can introduce Rags. Andrew arrogantly goes up on stage... but Kadee tells him she's looking for the real Rags, and calls Charlie up to the stage instead.
  • Beta Couple: Charlie’s stepbrother Lloyd and one of Kadee’s friends, Tammy, become this during the masquerade party.
  • Be Yourself: Kadee's big issue is that her father and costume designer are pressuring her into performing exactly what they want her to, how they want her to, regardless of her own wishes. Charlie encourages her to be herself and sing the music she wants to sing, despite her fears about doing so.
  • Big Applesauce: The movie takes place in New York City, which is described as a place where "anything can happen", and where Fairy Tale stories can come true.
  • Big Brother Bully: Andrew not only bullies Charlie, but is also quite mean and aggressive toward Lloyd. He blames him for everything that goes wrong, outright physically attacks him at one point, and happily betrays him to fulfill his own goals.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Shawn, the Fairy Godmother in this version, is portrayed as one of these. He's one of the first people to encourage Charlie in his musical career and constantly works to help him achieve that dream, even hooking him up with his own album, all while also acting in a brotherly position.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Kadee's dog Trumpet is large, shaggy, energetic, and affectionate. He topples Kadee over to kiss her, and eagerly runs up to meet Charlie while on a walk, causing Kadee to fall over and scatter her papers everywhere. He's also very sweet, and even takes on a heroic role, being the one to alert Kadee's friends to Charlie being locked in a closet.
  • Big, Stupid Doodoo-Head: Lloyd panics when his father catches him talking to Charlie and needs to justify the broken glasses on the floor (which Lloyd himself broke). He puts on a faux-Jerkass act and calls Charlie a "Gruntmuffin", an insult so lame that Charlie doesn't even know what it means and thus can't be offended by it. It's implied Lloyd either went with the first thing he could think of or used something nonsensical to not actually hurt Charlie's feelings, and fits with his slow-witted but kind-hearted personality.
  • Bonding over Missing Parents: One of the first real bonding moments between Charlie and Kadee is when they both open up about having deceased mothers, and proceed to joke about having their own "My Mom Died" t-shirts. This makes them go from friendly acquaintances to actual friends.
  • Caught Coming Home Late: Charlie realizes he's close to breaking his midnight curfew and sprints all the way home, sneaking in through the bathroom window to avoid being caught. However, his stepfamily were there waiting for him, catching him in the act...and he manages to get away with it, because he was a minute early, meaning no rules had actually been broken.
  • Cinderella Plot: A Gender Flipped retelling staring a boy named Charlie Prince, living with his stepfather and his two stepbrothers, one of whom is a jerkass, and the other a much kinder and similarly victimized person. Charlie has to work at the family restaurant while his stepbrothers practice their music act, but manages to get a part-time job at a record label which allows him to pursue his own dreams. He also becomes close friends with popstar Kadee Worth, this film's prince, well before the dance at the Masquerade Ball. At said ball, he performs in disguise as "Rags" and then drops his CD, which Kadee uses in order to find him.
  • Coordinated Clothes: Andrew and Lloyd always wear matching outfits as part of their "Android" shtick, including always having the same hairstyle...until the very end, where Lloyd changes up his look as Charlie's backup dancer and stops copying Andrew.
  • Consistent Clothing Style: Both Andrew and Lloyd, as part of their Coordinated Clothes shtick, are constantly wearing colorful shirts with jackets and often bow-ties. If they're going to be wearing one specific color, it's almost always red. In the end, Lloyd starts dressing more normally and in darker colors, signifying his shift away from his brother.
  • *Crack!* "Oh, My Back!": When Arthur is describing how to do "The Snake", he demonstrates the move himself. This is followed by a loud "crack", and he, awkwardly hunched over in pain, immediately declares that Andrew and Lloyd take a break for a bit.
  • Curtain Clothing: To design Charlie's costume for the Masquerade Ball, Martha incorporates the restaurant's stage curtains, which are a shiny silver color, and manages to turn them into a nice-looking suit and pants combo with just a bit of sewing.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: From what we know of Charlie's deceased mother, she was a caring and hard-working woman who owned a popular restaurant and encouraged Charlie's passion for music.
  • Defeat Means Menial Labor: The ultimate fate of Andrew and Arthur is to be stuck working the restaurant like they'd forced Charlie to. The ending scene shows them cleaning a toilet together as Charlie, Kadee, and Lloyd perform.
  • Diegetic Musical: All of the music is from Charlie and Kadee's shows and rehearsals, his stepbrother's own musical act, or in the case of one song, being played in-universe as music for a masquerade party.
  • Disappeared Dad: Charlie's biological father is never mentioned.
  • The Dreaded Toilet Duty: One of Charlie's chores is to do the bathrooms. Though not shown on screen, he's shown walking out with the plunger at one point, looking disgusted. Later, as A Taste of Their Own Medicine, Arthur and Andrew, Charlie's tormentors, are the ones cleaning the toilets- and are shown hunched over a single toilet, looking miserable as they scrub it clean.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • The first scene at the Palace captures the family's dynamic pretty well. Charlie is dancing while doing his chores, only to be immediately nervous once confronted by Arthur. Arthur, meanwhile, shows up to berate Charlie for dancing on the job, only to then call out his own sons to perform their own musical act for a customer. Andrew and Lloyd appear, with Andrew showing up first; Lloyd tries to explain why they call themselves "Android", and Andrew insults him for it.
    • In Kadee's first scene, she's dancing in tight latex clothes but complains about them as soon as she's done shooting. Her father is affectionate to her, but busy and dismissive of her complaints, and her costume designer forces her into outfits she didn't like while kissing up to her father.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Andrew manages to eavesdrop on Lloyd and Charlie just in time to hear them discussing the fact that Charlie is Rags, inadvertently spilling Charlie's secret and giving Andrew and Arthur the information they need to plan their climatic scheme.
  • Fake Relationship: Kadee and Finn aren't actually dating, it's just a business arrangement by the record label to get them both more attention. When they "break up", Kadee just wants to find Rags, while Finn just cares about getting less of the spotlight.
  • Fell Asleep Standing Up: During the montage that plays while Charlie is recording "Hands Up", he's shown half-asleep while holding a broom, exhausted from working and recording to the point where he's passing out on his feet even after being given food.
  • "Gaining Confidence" Song:
    • Kadee's struggle during the film is to be herself and sing the music she wrote, rather than what the label wants her to. Charlie takes her out to perform on the street like he does, which makes her very nervous. Over the course of the song, she gets over her fears and ends up with an engaged, dancing crowd and some decent tips- cut short only because a cop showed up.
    • Charlie had been practicing his music for ages and even produced a CD with Shawn. However, when Shawn makes him go on stage at the Masquerade Ball, he's terrified- his stepbrothers just had an underwhelming performance that ended up with booing, and despite being in disguise, he was still scared to mess up. Then, as the song progressed, it became obvious that the audience was enjoying it- and Charlie started to as well, with the song picking up strength and his energy heightening, ending up with a performance so good it lead Kadee to hunt for "Rags" and sign him up with the label.
  • Gender Flip: Literally every major character compared to the original story; Cinderella is now a boy named Charlie with a stepfather and stepbrothers, Shawn as the Fairy Godfather, and the Prince is a female popstar named Kadee Worth. The only character that remains the same gender is Kadee's father, Reginald Worth (who was the king in the original story).
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: Kadee's two best friends are a bubbly and Dumb Blonde, and a smarter, more alternative Brunette.
  • Hairpin Lockpick: Kadee's friend gets Charlie out of a closet by picking the lock with her hairpin.
  • Idiot Ball: Charlie holds it towards the end of the film, when he gets locked in the closet so that Andrew can pretend to be Rags. There are several red flags that he'd normally notice, and yet he glosses over them, such as that Andrew is at the venue at all and is acting uncharacteristically amicably toward him, that Arthur is "trying to be nice" to him, and that he apparently "has a gift" for him. Because he goes along with everything and doesn't question their behavior, he gets trapped in the closet and is almost completely defeated.
  • Insecure Protagonist, Arrogant Antagonist:
    • Charlie's main obstacle for Kadee's romantic attention is that she's stuck pretending to date a model named Finn, who acts as a minor antagonist throughout the film. While Charlie is insecure about himself and his abilities and thinks Kadee wouldn't want to be with him, Finn has an It's All About Me attitude and doesn't really care at all about Kadee, drawing plenty of contrast. It's slightly downplayed in that Finn and Charlie don't interact very often, but Finn serves as a famous bad-boy counterpart for Charlie to get concerned about.
    • Andrew, Charlie's older and more antagonistic stepbrother, is an arrogant Big Brother Bully who blames all his problems on his younger brother Lloyd while also gleefully picking on Charlie. Charlie, meanwhile, spends the film struggling with insecurity and is put at a disadvantage- where Andrew is given the opportunity to practice his singing talent and gets a decent amount of praise for his apparent abilities, Charlie isn't able to practice unless in secret and is repeatedly being discouraged and bullied away from his talent. Andrew also shares this dynamic with Lloyd, who is a Peer-Pressured Bully seeking approval where his brother is far more confident and respected.
  • Intentional Mess Making: Played With. After a short discussion about his secret identity, Charlie tells Lloyd that he has no intention of revealing these things to Kadee. In a misguided attempt to force him to be honest, he starts smashing the glasses Charlie had to wash, claiming he'd only stop if Charlie agreed. Despite having good intentions, he also knew full well that Charlie'd get in trouble, and blamed the mess on him as soon as Arthur noticed it in an effort to protect himself.
  • Invisible Backup Band: A good chunk of the songs are just the characters singing in the street, a pawn shop, or on stage with no equipment, and yet they'll inexplicably be accompanied by instruments, auto-tuning, and layered vocals.
  • "I Want" Song: "Someday", sung by Charlie as he wishes to escape his estranged life.
  • Masquerade Ball: The Ballroom scene from the Fairy Tale is replaced with a masquerade party held by Kadee's record company, for the purposes of announcing the winner of their talent-search. Charlie manages to get in and out undetected by wearing a mask and hat.
  • Meet Cute: After Trumpet runs over to Charlie and spills Kadee's compositions everywhere, Charlie goes to help her and the two of them end up bumping heads. This is their first interaction, and it ends pretty awkwardly, as Kadee gets upset at the fact that one of her sheets got waterlogged while Charlie is just nervous and starstruck.
  • Missing Mom: Nobody seems to have a mother. In the case of Charlie and Kadee, their mothers are dead; what happened to Andrew and Lloyd's biological mother is never explained.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Charlie gets quite a few scenes wearing a muscle shirt, showing off pretty well toned arms.
  • Musical Chores: Charlie is shown doing his chores while practicing his singing, at one point using his broom as a fake microphone.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Charlie and Kadee are both characterized primarily by being really kind people whether it's to strangers or people they're already close with. Kadee decides to give a homeless man all the money she makes in her first street performance, and Charlie's forgiving side comes when Lloyd goes to him for company after being yelled at.
    • Lloyd is a bit naive and easily distracted, but he's also incredibly nice, never taking the aggressive position in any interaction and preferring to just get along with people and have fun. The one time he's forced to insult Charlie is in a moment of panic, and he immediately apologizes afterward.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: "Not So Different At All" is a song about two people who, though they come from different walks of life, have the same dreams and desires, making them not so different at all. The song is heavily implied to be written about Kadee, especially as it comes from Charlie's perspective.
  • One-Word Title: Protagonist Title Stage Name.
  • Opening Monologue: At the beginning of the film, Shawn narrates over some establishing shots about how the story is a Cinderella story that takes place in New York, and stars a boy named Charlie. Shawn also closes out the film with more narration.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: Charlie happens to be cleaning the hallway when Kadee, Finn, and her father are discussing how much time Kadee is spending with him. She sarcastically points out that someone like her has no reason to be spending so much time with a janitor who mops the floors she walks on, and he walks away in annoyance before she sincerely calls him cooler than anyone else in the building.
  • Parents as People: Kadee's father is also the CEO of Majesty Records, meaning that while he's a loving father who genuinely wants his daughter to succeed and be happy, he's also constantly busy, focused on the business side of her music, and eventually has to learn that she needs him to act more like a father than a manager.
  • Parental Favoritism: Arthur plays favorites quite a bit. In addition to Charlie suffering as the abused stepson, he also plays favorites among his own sons, treating Andrew with far more respect than he does Lloyd.
  • Peer-Pressured Bully: Charlie is bullied by his stepfather and his stepbrother, Andrew. The other stepbrother, Lloyd, is actually a Nice Guy who's visibly uncomfortable whenever Charlie is being harassed; he only keeps his mouth shut and follows his family's lead out of fear, as displayed in the only scene he ever insults Charlie in- which happened in a panic after his father interrupted the two of them talking amicably. At the end, he stands up for Charlie and is rewarded for it, becoming a backup dancer while the others get toilet duty.
  • Portmanteau: The stage name Andrew and Lloyd use in their act is "Android", a combination of both of their names, as explained by Lloyd at the beginning.
  • Protagonist Title: "Rags" is Charlie's Stage Name, which he uses to perform secretly.
  • Publicity Stunt Relationship: Kadee and Finn were both in a contractually obligated "relationship" for the cameras. This was frustrating for Kadee, who absolutely hated Finn for his It's All About Me attitude and ego. The longer she spends time with Charlie, she grows increasingly unhappy being with Finn and eventually calls out the fact that their relationship is just a business arrangement, and that they otherwise don't even talk. At the end, she's able to happily be with Charlie, and Finn is left holding interviews about how Kadee is definitely going to want him back.
  • Recycled In Space: Genderflipped Cinderella in New York.
  • Rich Sibling, Poor Sibling: Downplayed and zig-zagged with Charlie and his stepbrothers, Andrew and Lloyd. While Charlie is definitely worse off and is established as having no money to his name, thanks to being an unpaid employee of his stepfather's restaurant and little more, his stepbrothers aren't exactly rich. The business is failing, and while their dad favors them more than Charlie, he's still prone to yelling at them more than actually spoiling them. As for the stepbrothers themselves, the most spoiled and privileged is Andrew, who isn't yelled at nearly as often as Lloyd is, and who gives his own brother the shaft later on in the movie in favor of his own solo career.
  • Roadside Wave: In the opening scene, Charlie's street performance gets cut short when a speeding car sends water all over the people watching and dancing, causing them all to leave.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Sarcasm seems to be lost on Lloyd, such as this line:
    Andrew: (mockingly, to Charlie) "Have a nice pity party."
    Lloyd: (Excitedly) "You're having a party? We're-"
    Andrew: "I was making fun of him, idiot."
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When he gets home and sees the restaurant already decorated to celebrate Andrew's "reveal" as Rags, Charlie decides he's had enough and just packs his bags to leave. Arthur's attempt to stop him only involves more mockery, and he doesn't make any more effort after Charlie shoves past him. Kadee asks him to stay so she can introduce Rags, but he nearly walks out the door before she calls his name.
  • Shipper on Deck: Lloyd tries to encourage Charlie to talk to Kadee, insisting that he won't know she likes him unless he tries and getting very adamant about Charlie listening to his advice.
  • Shout-Out Theme Naming: Charlie's stepbrothers are named Andrew and Lloyd, after Andrew Lloyd Webber.
  • Slapstick: There's quite a bit of physical comedy in this movie, from Lloyd smacking his head into a microphone to Charlie stumbling backwards into his janitor's cart while talking to Kadee. Kadee herself isn't immune either; she smacks her head into Charlie's and gets shoved off of a bench.
  • Smart Jerk and Nice Moron: Andrew and Lloyd, Charlie's stepbrothers, have this dynamic. Andrew comes off as much smarter than Lloyd, being a schemer who helps his father take down Charlie; however, he's also a Big Brother Bully to both of his brothers, and is more than happy to join Arthur in abusing Charlie. Lloyd, meanwhile, isn't the brightest bulb in the bunch- but he's sweet to Charlie in every scene, and reforms for real at the end.
  • Spotting the Thread: Lloyd manages to discover that Charlie is Rags by noticing a conspicuous signature on Rags' shoes, which matches the one on Charlie's.
  • Stage Names: Charlie goes by "Rags" while performing at the Masquerade Ball. It was chosen by Shawn, so that when Charlie got big, he'd always "remember where he came from".
  • Starstruck Speechless: During their first meeting, Charlie manages to interact casually with Kadee before realizing who it is he's talking to, at which point he just repeats her name in shock.
  • Step Servant: While Charlie isn't shown waiting on his stepfamily, he is expected to work the family's restaurant and do a variety of chores every day for no pay. His stepfather, Arthur, clearly sees him as little more than an employee because he constantly threatens to dock his pay (which Charlie has to remind him doesn't exist) and taunts him about things like getting a "promotion" when he has to run karaoke, or how he'll be the one cleaning out his stepbrother's dressing rooms when they make it big.
  • Street Performer: To try and make enough money to buy-back his mother's old piano from a local pawn shop, Charlie plays music in the street with some other performers, always drawing an eager crowd and getting a decent amount of cash in his hat. When trying to help Kadee play her own music, he takes her to do their own street performance, which gets cut short by a cop.
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: Arthur and Andrew are punished at the end by having to do the chores Charlie was originally forced to do, like clean toilets.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: An audition variant occurs; when looking for Rags, there's a montage of people who clearly aren't Rags showing up to sing horribly and get sent away by Kadee. It ends when Andrew shows up as the "real" Rags.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: Much of the music in the movie is pretty organic, coming from the characters writing their own music and putting on performances. However, "Nothing Gets Better Than This" is a song Charlie randomly busts into at the pawn shop. It has nothing to do with the characters or plot, it's just... a song about a pawn shop, and everyone else starts dancing and singing with him until it ends.
  • Token Houseguest: The film is primarily about Charlie, who lives above his mom's old restaurant with his stepfather Arthur and his stepbrothers. However, it's also implied that they're living with two employees of the restaurant, Diego and Martha, as Diego apparently makes Arthur breakfast. This makes Charlie's life a little easier, as they help him deal with his day-to-day existence.
  • Un-Confession: When Kadee comes over to tell Charlie about Rags' performance and disappearance, he attempts to tell her the truth, but realizes she's got headphones in. When she takes them out a moment later, he backs out of telling her, and temporarily resolves to never let her know that he's Rags.
  • Unexpected Kindness: Charlie is startled when Lloyd approaches him and meekly asks if he needs help with his chores. While Lloyd has never been a jerk, he's the follower of his actually jerkass father and brother, who pick on Charlie relentlessly. So, the brief moment of kindness when the two of them were alone caught him off-guard, as he wasn't used to being offered help with his work.
  • Unflattering ID Photo: On his first day as a janitor for Majesty Records, Charlie is caught messing around in Kadee's office by Kadee and her friends. To convince them he's not just some stalker, he shows them his ID tag with his awkward picture, pointing out that he wouldn't use said picture if he were faking it.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: At the very beginning of the movie, Shawn explains the premise, including the fact that Charlie is stuck working for his stepfather at his deceased mother's restaurant. Then, only a few minutes later, Arthur yells at Charlie for singing while doing his chores and exposits that exact same thing, this time explaining it to Charlie himself.
  • We Need a Distraction: In order to buy Charlie time to get back inside in time, Diego and Martha frantically distract Arthur with pointless questions and a lot of stalling.
  • White Glove Test: Arthur uses a glove to check whether or not Charlie properly cleaned the restaurant. To his surprise, the place actually has been cleaned, despite it originally being a "dump", to use his words.
  • Wicked Stepfather: Charlie's stepfather, Arthur, is a Genderflipped version of the archetypal stepmother. Not only does he mistreat Charlie for the sake of his own sons, but he seemingly has no respect for Charlie's dead mother either, selling her piano to buy a karaoke machine and then planning to sell her restaurant as well.


Video Example(s):


Rags Opening Narration

Shawn, the film's narrator, explains the plot of the movie- and likens it to the plot of Cinderella.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / CinderellaPlot

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