Modern Cinderella flops, according to early reviews


Benjamin Salit, Contributing writer

The long-awaited Cinderella remake, starring Camila Cabello, Idina Menzel, Minnie Driver, Nicholas Galitzine, Billy Porter and Pierce Brosnan, made its debut on Sept. 3.  Based on the 1812 fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm and the 1950 Disney animated musical feature film, the 2021 version of Cinderella has been altered to suit current audiences, in select theaters and on Amazon Prime Video.  

“I was excited to make a modern retelling for this new generation that’s significantly different from what I grew up with and what my mother grew up with,” said writer-director Kay Cannon.  

The 2021 version of the film stars Camila Cabello as Ella, a young girl who has dreams to become a fashion designer and establish her own dress shop.  The movie follows her journey chasing these dreams in a kingdom where women are not often recognized.

Additionally, viewers are provided with a backstory of Ella’s stepmother Vivian, played by  Frozen star Idina Menzel.

“I didn’t want there to be any ‘evil’ in the movie at all.  Sshe’s not jealous of Ella or spiteful.  Her advice is coming from a very emotional and tragic place, really,” said Cannon. 

 In fact, “Dream Girl,” one of the film’s new tracks, is an anthem for all women in the kingdom who are not recognized and appreciated for who they are.  Menzel’s writing and performance accentuate the theme of women empowerment that rings true throughout the movie.

“I thought this was a good inclusion as it displays how women were treated during this time period and allows you to sympathize with the step-mother,” said sophomore Holly Sternlicht.
Cinderella’s music had a nostalgic vibe for many audiences.  The film’s soundtrack included many popular songs from the past few decades and debuted at number two on the Billboard top soundtrack chart.  Some famous songs included in the film soundtrack are: “Am I Wrong,” originally performed by Norwegian music duo Nico and Vinz, “Perfect,” originally sung by Ed Sheeran, and “Let’s Get Loud,” which was initially performed by Jennifer Lopez.

“Amazon’s new Cinderella movie is a lot of fun, and its new soundtrack keeps the film fresh and relatable,” said Blake Hawkins, a writer for

Another significant change made from the 1950 version of Cinderella was the inclusion of a gender-neutral “Fabulous Godmother,” played by Billy Porter.  Changing this character was a major breakthrough in the world of family-friendly movies, as it introduces children to the wide spectrum of gender identities and the LGBTQ+ community.

“Magic has no gender,” said Porter in an interview with Insider.

Another of the many other differences between the 2021 version of Cinderella and the original version is the brand-new character Princess Gwen, Prince Robert’s sister.  Gwen is given an incredible female storyline in the film, and her character is very inspiring to girls.  In fact, Kay Cannon wrote her character with a young Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren in mind.

“This was an original character that I desperately wanted to have,” said Cannon.   

Despite the incredible cast, catchy soundtrack, and innovative changes, the film received mainly negative reviews from critics.  On Rotten Tomatoes, Cinderella only has an approval rating of 43% based on 120 reviews.  

“The singalong-worthy Cinderella sprinkles some modern fairy dust on the oft-told tale, but clunky performances and flat dialogue make watching often feel like a chore,” said the website’s critics consensus. 

 Additionally, Courtney Howard of Variety called the film mediocre, saying that the film was “underdeveloped and overstuffed” at the same time. 

“The movie was alright, but it doesn’t compare to the original movie,” said sophomore Ella Osher.

There are still those who love the movie.  One being Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times who gave the film 3 out of 4 stars and said that it had an “upbeat, breezy, and sentimental style, laced with some sharp humor and filled with familiar and catchy pop tunes refashioned to fit the storyline.”

Overall, the new 2021 version of Cinderella is an innovative take on the original story, combining popular music, incredible actors, and important story-line changes that helped to modernize it.  The film is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime.