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For some reason, this damn film has been on my mind lately. It's a fun watch, but hardly a cinematic masterpiece, so I'll try and break down why I enjoy it so much but also why it's kind of a mess in some areas.
As a Nickelodeon film, it's focused mainly on humor and characters, not to mention the music. This means that the actual moments of drama are sparse and the conflict feels less important than it actually is. It's a Cinderella story, but the actual Cinderella plot is told in between the scenes of Charlie and Kadee hanging out, or Kadee's own subplot, or musical montages; so instead of some serious moments of abuse and an emphasis on the dynamic with Charlie and his stepfamily, like most Cinderella adaptations spend a lot of time on, Charlie's mostly just seen sweeping the stage and being randomly made fun of, if they aren't too busy working on their own musical act to ignore him completely.
This is perhaps the film's weakest aspect; to me, a big draw of Cinderella stories is the conflict and stepfamily interaction which sets up the dire need for the Cinderella to get out, but apart from a handful of scenes, there's no big emphasis placed on his situation. In fact, he seems to at least have more freedom than other Cinderella characters, being able to leave the house for hours at a time, perform in the streets, get a job, etc. What's holding him back actually seems to be his own insecurities, as explored in a conversation he has with Lloyd, ironically the scene I think is the best written in the whole movie.
See, while the film doesn't do a great job at focusing on and exploring the whole "Cinderella" thing, it does do a pretty decent job at character interaction when it focuses on it, and the scene with Lloyd and Charlie is one of the few more serious moments. Throughout the film there was some minor emphasis placed on Lloyd not really fitting with his father and brother, and being far more kind and down-to-Earth than they are; he only really wants to gain some sort of approval and have a good time but gets picked on constantly, much like Charlie. So, this scene actually highlighted this trait of his while also exploring Charlie's insecurities, as they both just talked- no songs, few jokes, and decent acting made this scene the most compelling moment in the film.
The music is also pretty good, especially the song at the Masquerade Ball.
In general, while hardly a very complex take on a Cinderella story and leaves some stuff to be desired, it does enough things right to still be a fun watch if you can turn your brain off and just enjoy the general silliness of it all- and then you can be more impressed when some moments of deeper brilliance shines through.
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