A CINDERELLA STORY
This is a Cinderella that has been updated to a contemporary California high school. It is Cinderella by way of Clueless (1995) and with a few dashes of Youve Got Mail (1998). The updatings prove occasionally amusing instead of dropping a glass slipper when she flees the ball, Cinderella leaves behind a cellphone; there is no fairy godmother, instead Cinderella gets her dress from sassy co-worker Regina King and in place of a mice-drawn coaches she is driven there by a geeky friend in his fathers Rolls. Most amusingly is in seeing the milieu of a fantasyland Mediaeval kingdom updated to a modern high school there is no prince but much mention of Princeton; Cinderellas serfdom is equated with having a minimum-wage job; and in lieu of royalty, the prince equivalent is captain of the high school football team and hangs out with an exclusive clique.
A Cinderella Story proves more likeable than one expected. Almost all of the supporting characterisations are caricatured to one extent or another but the two central players, Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray, have natural warmth. Alas the casting of Hilary Duff spears A Cinderella Storys one major problem Hilary Duff is beautiful and even when she is trying to dress down in shapeless trainers and baseball cap does not convince that she is downtrodden and unable to see any beauty in herself. This is perhaps the conceptual failing of A Cinderella Story that its parable of downtroddenness eventually winning out is, well, so relative. At most, the film offers up a message about people discovering their self-worth and of hard work eventually being rewarded. Here the original fairytales parable of the downtrodden triumphing has been distorted into a so-very-contemporary message about true beauty winning out over falseness. Hilary Duffs eventual triumph is less one of true love and the proverbial fairytale ending winning out than it is in her and the prince defying the phoniness that surrounds them the bitchy self-important cliquery and those whose looks come from plastic surgery and botox fakery and allowing their natural beauty to shine through and following the paths of their hearts desire. It is a fair point the film makes, although you cannot help but feel that it might have made it more potently if it were a full-figured or less attractive girl making the journey rather than someone naturally good-looking like Hilary Duff.
There were two sequels, for which read retelling with different cast with Another Cinderella Story (2008) starring Selena Gomez and A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song (2011) with Lucy Hale.
Director Mark Rosman has a surprising number of genre associations. He started out as a director with the slasher movie The House on Sorority Row (1983) and went onto make the genre likes of the childrens time travel tv movie The Blue Yonder (1985); The Force (1994) about a disembodied soul; the killer robot film Evolver (1995); the alien impregnation film The Invader (1997); Life-Size (tv movie, 2000) where Lindsay Lohan brings one of her dolls to life; the Christmas fantasy Snow 2: Brain Freeze (2008); the childrens film Time Toys (2016); as well as produced the modern slasher film Sorority Row (2009). Rosman previously directed Hilary Duff in various episodes of her tv series Lizzie McGuire (2001-3) and subsequently in The Perfect Man (2005). Rosman also visited modernised fairytales with the tv movie Princess (2008).