Once upon a time, Cinderella dreamed of proudly owning a enterprise. Or so the story goes in Kay Cannon’s new film, which drags the princess story into the 21st century with Top-40 pop songs, self-aware dialogue and a trite girlboss sensibility.
Among the numerous iterations the story has weathered via the ages, this “Cinderella” (streaming on Amazon), starring Camila Cabello because the orphaned maiden, is forgettable. It is oddly transfixing, although, as a research in the semiotics of the modernized fairy story. In this anachronism-laden kingdom, Ella fantasizes not about princes on steeds however about turning into a ball robe tycoon. “You’re gonna know my name,” she belts out in an authentic opening quantity, as she imagines a bazaar store referred to as Dresses by Ella.
This longing for company success takes the place of different, extra acquainted Cinderella story themes. The flinty Stepmother (Idina Menzel) receives a sequence of singalong numbers, whereas the Fabulous Godmother (Billy Porter) delivers sassy punch strains and some wand waves. But neither matriarchal determine shares a significant reference to our heroine, and even Ella’s useless mom, whose presence typically hovers over Cinderella tales, barely issues; early on, Ella fortunately sells her late mom’s heirloom broach as a part of an authentic gown design.
Dialogue additionally receives an replace. Forget “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo”: Here, the city crier raps, the ne’er-do-well Prince (Nicholas Galitzine) banters together with his sovereign bros and the stuffy King (Pierce Brosnan) and Queen (Minnie Driver) harrumph over whose throne is taller. Everyone speaks in concrete, self-referential phrases — a du jour dialogue styling typically related to screenwriting by Joss Whedon. “Yes, I was just crying and singing about it, like, two minutes ago,” Ella whines, when the Godmother asks if she desires to go to the ball.
There are hints of the pep and panache that enlivened fizzier jukebox musicals like “Pitch Perfect,” for which Cannon wrote the screenplay. But with a story this asinine, even Driver crooning the opening notes to “Let’s Get Loud” is tough to understand. Ella makes use of the ball as a networking occasion, the monarchy lets a girl lean in on the desk and everybody lives obnoxiously ever after, at the least till the following Cinderella remake.
Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 53 minutes. Watch on Amazon.