Film Preview: A Cinderella Story

Fairy tales are fair game for every generation to interpret on its own terms. Cinderella has long been a favorite of filmmakers. Ever since Disney’s now classic cartoon feature, there have been a host of variations on the Cinderella theme, among them Jerry Lewis’ goofy Cinderfella and, more recently, Drew Barrymore’s feminist, romantic comedy Ever After. This year, we’ve already been exposed to the irreverent and mildly amusing Ella Enchanted, and now this Hilary Duff vehicle, the title of which suggests that this is yet another stab in a long line of takes on an old, old story.

NT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The update, in this case, involves a cell phone, a chat room and a modern high-school hunk, so the target audience is clearly teenage girls. Shy and put-upon senior Sam Montgomery (Hilary Duff) lives at the beck and call of her self-obsessed stepmother, Fiona (Jennifer Coolidge), and her wicked stepsisters (are there any other kind?), who treat her as badly as Harry Potter’s aunt and uncle treat him.

NT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Sam has her sights set on Princeton University, but Fiona wants her to stay home and wait on her and her daughters, and work at her dear departed dad’s diner. So Sam spends lots of time in cyberspace chatting with a soul mate who also longs to go to Princeton. Her cyberbuddy turns out to be the dreamy star quarterback Austin Ames (Chad Michael Murray). Sam discovers Austin’s identity at a Halloween dance, but before he can learn who she is, she runs off, certain that he’d have no interest in a loser like her. However, she drops her cell phone, which Austin finds and uses to track down his mystery girl.

The question is, of course, will Austin/Charming ever find his mystery girl, and will Sam find the courage to show herself and claim the life she has always wanted? And, if you don’t know the answer to that one, you haven’t been to very many movies.

Duff, who plays Sam, says Cinderella is such a compelling story for successive generations of girls because “everybody, or every girl, when they were young, wanted to be like Cinderella. It’s a really good story that’s very uplifting, with all the hard times, and sad times, and bad times. And then, of course, everything ends up beautiful at the end! I think that’s what makes it so popular.”

The film should appeal to legions of young girls from 5 to 15.

The film is rated PG for “mild language and innuendo.”

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