Movie Review: A Cinderella Story (2004)

Starring: Hilary Duff, Chad Michael Murray and Jennifer Coolidge

Directed by: Mark Rosman

A modern day take on the classic story of Cinderella. Exploited by her stepmother and stepsisters after the death of her father, Sam Montgomery is excited about meeting her mystery internet boyfriend until her stepsisters team with the popular girls in school to try and ruin everything for her.

So, after a long day at work it was my wife’s turn to choose the movie for the evening. As soon as I saw that she had pulled out A Cinderella Story I immediately felt a little disheartened as it’s something that’s never really floated my boat and isn’t my sort of film. However, this year has seen me watch films that I would otherwise avoid and a lot of the time I’ve enjoyed the journey that I’ve been on so in the spirit of giving this movie a try I tried to remain open minded.

Hilary Duff stars as Sam Montgomery and around this time Hilary Duff was white hot and was high in demand as she comes off the back of the hugely successful Lizzy Maguire Show. Sam Montgomery had a fantastic relationship with her dad until he married Fiona who had twin daughters. During an earthquake, her father dies and Sam is left in the care of her stepmother who uses and abuses her to work in her diner and wait on her and her daughters hand and foot. Sam is in high school now and is a bit of an outsider but works hard to make her Princeton dream a reality and she shares an internet relationship with a mystery man from her school who turns out to be the quarterback superstar Austin Aimes. After initially being told she’s not allowed to go to the ball by her stepmother, the restaurant manager Rhonda (Regina King) gets her a dress and makes her Cinderella as she wears a masquerade mask to the ball. After meeting her internet boyfriend, she’s taken a back at who it is but her stepsisters and Austin’s ex girlfriend try and intervene so that Cinderella doesn’t get her Prince Charming and happily ever after moment.

A Cinderella Story was full of really bad acting performances but amongst the rather mediocre cast there were a few stand out performances that do deserve some credit. Dan Byrd as Carter who is Sams best friend was very good in his role as was Jennifer Coolidge who played evil stepmother Fiona and finally Regina King as the Godmother was also pretty decent. The rest of the cast however were just either poor or mediocre as they played very cliche high school characters and not very well either. While this was a modern day take on the Cinderella story I would’ve liked it if the movie tried to tell the story in a more unique way and only loosely base this on the princess story. For me I thought the logical person for Sam to end up with was her best friend Carter. Sure he hasn’t got the looks like Austin has but he was always there for Sam throughout the movie, offering her support when she was at her lowest but unfortunately he was destined to remain in the friend zone as Sam and Austin created the happily ever after moment.

The one thing that strikes me as absurd was that Sam’s identity was hidden from Austin by a masquerade mask which just covered her eyes and nose. I was watching the story unfold and thought how ridiculous this lazy writing and costume designing is if it takes a small mask to hide Cinderella’s identity from everybody in school. During that moment I felt myself rolling my eyes and letting out a big sigh of disappointment. Some of the soundtrack choices were good although Hilary Duff managed to get a few of her songs involved within the movie which I thought was a little bit lame but overall the music choices were really fitting to the movie.

Overall, this movie wasn’t awful but it was predictable and did feature some pretty awful acting performances. While I was mildly entertained by some of the characters on display I think I can safely say that this movie just wasn’t for me.

4/10

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