Once upon a time... can happen any time.
Running Time: 0 minutes
US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG
Country: Canada, United States
Aww, Hilary Duff – don’tcha just love her? Aside from being one of the Disney corporation’s favourite puppets, she’s got a knack for appearing in instantly-forgettable tween-coms and a penchant for harmless MTV-friendly rock music.
‘A Cinderella Story’ is the third movie of her’s that I’ve reviewed over the past year or so. None of them have been any good, and none of that has been her fault. She’s a likable performer, she does what she does well, and it’s not difficult to see why – at just 16 years of age – she’s already built up an impressive fanbase (not to mention, I assume, an even more impressive fortune). But puh-leeze, Hils, can you not try choosing to appear in a decent film for a change?
This one does exactly what it says on the tin. It takes ‘Cinderella’ and gives it a modern-day spin, casting Duff as the High School teen who’s given a permanently hard time by her wicked botox-loving stepmother (Jennifer Coolidge) and two ugly sisters (Andrea Avery and Madeline Zima). You know the drill – stepmaw and the siblings-from-Hell have a whale of a time at our heroine’s expense, sunbathing and synchronised-swimming (yes, really!) while poor Cinders is forced to scrub floors at the nearby diner.
Of course it’s all change when the film’s Prince Charming comes along in the form of football team hunk Austin (Chad Michael Murray). At first their relationship is strictly textual (that’s right, it’s 2004 so everyone’s obsessed with mobile phones), but soon blossoms into something more when they meet at the school dance and she runs off before midnight without giving him as much as a snog.
The film could easily be a sequel to Duff’s previous big-screen vehicle The Lizzie McGuire Movie, as she basically plays the same character – a cute, nicey-nicey mid-teener who we’re expected to believe is neither popular with the boys or part of the in-crowd. Still, given her age, she at least makes a believable schoolgirl – unlike co-stars Murray and Julie Gonzalo who are both 22 and look every day of it.
What really kills ‘A Cinderella Story’ is that it’s a dull film based on probably the dullest of the fairy-tales. Aside from Jennifer Coolidge, who has some genuinely funny lines (“droughts are for poor people!”), and possibly Regina King who does a passable turn as the would-be Fairy Godmother, the characters on show are surprisingly down-beat and there’s precious little to raise a smile. Nothing is done to spice up the original premise and what we’re left with is inoffensive, but also completely flat.
It's Got: The dad from Beverly Hills, 90210.
It Needs: Duffs car to turn into a pumpkin.
Alternatives:Ever After, The Lizzie McGuire Movie
Just another fairy-tale, only without any magic.