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.
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.
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)
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.