Online Cinders finds her Prince
Starring Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray "A Cinderella Story" is a movie which obviously targets the younger age group, those early teens who on its release in 2004 would have been watching Hilary Duff in "Lizzie McGuire" and Chad Michael Murray on various TV shows such as "One Tree Hill" and "Dawson's Creek". But "A Cinderella Story" is without a doubt a weak movie, updating the classic fairytale to a more modern setting with some cheap humour, but it is also inoffensive and is a little charming. And as such it's definitely a movie that young teens will enjoy a lot more than adults as there is nothing really unique, clever or special about it.
After her father's sudden death, Sam Montgomery (Hilary Duff - Cheaper by the Dozen) is left to live with her wicked Stepmother, Fiona (Jennifer Coolidge - American Pie: The Wedding), and her two step sisters. Fiona doesn't really care for Sam, and basically treats her like a servant, as she forces her to work at the family diner, as well as looking after the home. Life's not much better for Sam at school, where she finds herself being mocked and shunned by the more popular and wealthy groups of girls and boys. The only enjoyment Sam has is her internet romance with a mystery guy from the same school. After weeks of flirtatious messages they agree to meet at the school fancy dress dance but unaware of whom her mystery man is, she is stunned to find out it is Austin Ames (Chad Michael Murray), one of the most popular boys at school and one of the gang who shunned her. Although they get on, Sam has to rush back to the diner where she works; before her wicked stepmother finds out she is missing. In her haste to leave, she drops her mobile phone, and it falls into the hands of Austin, who takes it upon himself to find the owner and possibly the girl he really loves.
So take the classic fairy tale of Cinderella, adapt it into a modern setting with a left behind slipper replaced by a mobile phone and what have you got, "A Cinderella Story". It's nothing especially new and this sort of thing has been done several times before often to a much greater degree of success. But although it's not a great movie, "A Cinderella Story" achieves what it sets out to do, that is to be a light hearted, cutesy, fairytale romance obviously aimed at a young teen audience.
The actual adaptation of the fairy tale works surprisingly well, when updated to fit into a modern world, with classic bits of the story, such as the glass slipper being swapped for a mobile phone. If you really wanted to pick out something which doesn't work, you could pick up on why Austin didn't realize that his mystery date was Sam, she wasn't that hard to identify in her fancy dress costume. But in all fairness, this is a fairytale, so you can't really criticize it for little things like this.
In the lead role of Sam is Hilary Duff who puts in an enjoyable performance as Sam. Her "Prince Charming", Austin Ames, is played by Chad Michael Murray who like Hilary Duff, puts in an adequate and enjoyable performance. Probably the funniest performance comes from the stepmother, Fiona, played by Jennifer Coolidge who doesn't really come over as an evil character, toned down to be more of a mean money grabber. The rest of the cast all put in adequate and occasionally funny performances although it is amusing to see Simon Helberg of "The Bing Bang Theory" is a role where he plays a geek.
What this all boils down to is that "A Cinderella Story" is a reasonable movie, which is definitely aimed at a younger audience than myself. It achieves what it aims to do, and that is to firstly adapt the classic Cinderella fairytale into a modern setting, but also to make an innocent romantic comedy which appeals to its desired audience. If you are looking for a movie which you can watch with your children then "A Cinderella Story" wouldn't be a bad choice, as you will enjoy comparing it to the classic fairytale, and they will enjoy the harmless story.