Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Cinderella Story (Film)

Release date: 2004. Performers: Hilary Duff, Jennifer Coolidge, Chad Michael Murray, Dan Byrd, Regina King. Studio: Warner Brothers Pictures. Director: Mark Rosman. Screenplay: Leigh Dunlap.
File:Movie poster a cinderella story.jpgPlot summary: Samantha Montgomery lives with her loving father, Hal, who owns a successful diner. Wanting Samantha to have a mother, her Hal marries Fiona who moves in with her two daughters, Brianna and Gabriella. One night, Hal is tragically killed during a large earthquake, leaving Samantha to live with Fiona, who is actually cruel and hates Samantha. Since Hal had no will when he was killed, Fiona inherits the house and diner, and turns Samantha into her and her daughters’ personal slave. Eight years later, Samantha, Brianna and Gabriella are in high school. Fiona spoils her daughters rotten and they are bumbling idiots who are trying desperately to be popular. Samantha is forced to work long hours at the diner, but still manages to get straight A’s. Samantha takes refuge online, where she has a pen pal named Nomad who she shares her aspirations with. It is revealed that Nomad is actually Austin Ames, the most popular boy at Samantha’s high school, quarterback of the football team, and recent ex-boyfriend of popular cheerleader, Shelby. When Nomad suggests that he and Samantha meet in person at their school’s Halloween dance, Samantha is distraught when Fiona forces her to work, missing the dance. The loving employees of the diner, however, are determined that Samantha go, and get her dressed up beautifully. When she arrives in costume at the dance, Austin doesn’t realize who she is, and the two immediately fall for each other. But when Austin learns that Samantha is actually a poor diner employee, will he still love her?
Review:  This modern take on the classic Cinderella tale includes a lot of twists and turns from the original story that make for a wonderful movie for tweens. Instead of Samantha’s beauty, the “prince” falls for her kindness and intelligence. The evil stepmother is actually a Botox’d, plastic surgery obsessed woman who is too self-centered to love anyone but her own offspring. The stepsisters are wannabe popular girls, who believe they are talented and desirable, but are, in fact, perpetually making fools of themselves. The prince is a pensive and intelligent quarterback who doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed into the life his father has set out for him. All of these changes make for a very interesting film that shows that popularity isn’t all it’s cut out to be. True to the original tale, the ending of the movie is very satisfying with all the loose ends tied up and the characters getting what they deserve. A Cinderella Story is an idea “chick-flick” for tween girls with a good message behind it as well.
Genre: Fiction
Interest level: Grades 4-9
Similar titles: Ever After (1998)
Personal thoughts: I really enjoyed this modern take on the Cinderella story, especially because it showed that brains can take a girl much farther than just beauty. Jennifer Coolidge as the evil stepmother almost stole the show for me with her goofy Botox’d face. The interactions between Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray are very sweet, and tweens will definitely enjoy watching the beautiful couple fall for eachother.
Themes:  Cinderella, intelligence, following your heart.
Awards/Reviews:   Box office success.
Series Information: Sequels: Another Cinderella Story (2008) and A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song (In production)
Character information:
Samantha Montgomery – The “Cinderella” character. An intelligent and caring girl who is orphaned after her father is killed in an earthquake. She meets her “prince” in an online chatroom where she impresses him with her intelligence and aspirations.
Austin Ames – The “Prince Charming” character. A kind but misunderstood high school quarterback. He is the most popular guy at school, but longs for something outside of the life that he sees laid out before him.
Fiona Montgomery – The “Evil Stepmother” character. A cruel, self-absorbed woman who cares only for her own daughters. She treats Samantha very poorly.
Brianna and Gabriella Montgomery – The “Evil Stepsisters.” They try very hard to be popular, but always end up making fools of themselves.
Annotation:   In this modern version of the classic tale, Samantha meets her prince, the most popular boy in her school, in an online chat room where she impresses him with her intelligence and aspirations in life.

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