Hindered by humor, ‘Cinderella’ breaks ground with music focus and dismantled

Zoe Tzanis, Life and Arts Desk Editor

Pop artist Camila Cabello stars in the newest remake of “Cinderella,” which hit select theaters and Amazon Prime on Sept. 3. Directed by Kay Cannon, the film takes a jukebox musical approach to the age-old story.

The film starts with a bang, a dance sequence with the entire population of the realm, “Rhythm Nation,” and remains in constant motion throughout. Singing, dancing, band numbers; the fast pace distracts more than it engages. 

The surface-level conversations and dry humor make the jam-packed production even more exasperating. The actors put out a lot of jokes. None of them hit. Thankfully, the musical performances routinely interrupt the monotonous dialogue, driving the story along with appealing vocals. 

As a jukebox musical, the music plays on existing classics, like Madonna’s “Material Girl” sung by Cinderella’s evil stepmother (Idina Menzel) and Queen’s “Somebody to Love” sung by Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine). Infused with a modern, situational twist, the well-known songs make for an easy audience singalong.

The stacked cast gives the film some otherwise unearned credibility, raising engagement despite the tediousness.

While the film focuses heavily on Cinderella or “Ella” to the point of making every other character one-dimensional, Cabello’s performance lacks depth. Falling consistently on her character’s quirks and lackluster humor, her internal conversations, whether with computer-generated mice or a physical version of her future self, need more emotion. Ella lives through difficult situations, and Cabello’s performance makes that reality unclear.

The film is not, however, without wins. While the main characters lacked diversity, the film boasted an ethnically diverse cast of townspeople. Nevertheless, “Cinderella” pushes against gender norms. Both Ella and Princess Gwen (Tallulah Greive) symbolize the need for a woman’s role in the political sphere, constantly advocating for their space at the royal table and marketplace. 

Ella’s fairy godmother, or rather Fab G. (Billy Porter), delivers a fresh take on his part. Decked out in a sparkly, golden pantsuit, he brings a needed energy to the waning plot, as well as an enjoyable break from the status quo.

Visual, modern, and musical, it differs immensely from its predecessors. The film deserves appreciation for its emphasis on modern values and resistance to outdated traditions.

However, Cinderella’s modern twist and musical emphasis cannot save it from flawed, inane humor or superficial dialogue. 

2.5 / 5 glass slippers