13 May 2013

Movie Review: "A Cinderella Story"

Rated: PG for mild language and innuendo (US) / G (Canadian Home Video Rating)
Starring: Hilary Duff, Chad Michael Murray, and Regina King
Released: July 16, 2004 (theaters) / October 19, 2004 (DVD)
Synopsis: Sam (Hilary Duff, Lizzie McGuire) used to have it all: a loving father, good friends, a nice house, and a bright future.  However, after her father's death, Sam was left in the care of her selfish stepmother and stepsisters, who make her work her fingers to the bone while they live it up.  Sam has struck up a friendship with a guy online (Chad Michael Murray, One Tree Hill), who calls himself Nomad.  Based on their online interactions, she believes he is her soulmate.  They agree to meet at her school's Halloween homecoming dance, but, when she finds out that he is a popular jock, she is embarrassed to reveal her true identity.  Will Nomad ever find his Cinderella, or will Sam be forced to spend the rest of her life being her stepmother's slave?

Plot: 4/5
Sure, the whole Cinderella thing has been done before countless times, but this film takes a slightly different spin on it, which is to its benefit.  There are some moments that are a bit silly, but, as a whole, I found it to be mostly involving.

Production Values: 4.5/5
Aside from some soundtrack issues, I also found it to be well-made.  All of the stars, including lead actress and my former number-one girl Hilary Duff, did quite well.  Even the background music wasn't all terrible; there were two songs by Ms. Duff herself, and one by a pre-American Idol Kara DioGuardi, as well as few others that weren't bad.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: Some quips are made, and breast implants are discussed.  One kiss.
  • Nudity: Many of the female characters in this film wear everything from short skirts to high-rise tops to bikinis, though Sam herself never stoops to that level.  Shirtless guys are also seen in just one scene.
  • Language: A little bit of profanity, including some misuses of God's name, alongside some euphemisms such as "jeez" and name-calling.
  • Drugs: None.
  • Violence: An implied death from an earthquake.  One automobile accident happens, and two more nearly do, though no one is hurt or killed in any of them.  Everything else is mostly slapstick and played for laughs.
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: The near-accidents mentioned above.
  • Other: A bit of bathroom humor.
Conclusion: I missed out on this movie when it came out in 2004, despite being a big-time Hilary Duff fan.  Since then, I had wanted to see it, but, every time I checked it out from the library, it would be due before I got around to watching it.  I even saw the direct-to-video sequels--Another Cinderella Story, which was a bit dumb but had a great song by Selena Gomez, and A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song, which had a bit too much language and inane content, not to mention that the theme song by lead actress Lucy Hale was an attack on those with religious beliefs--before actually watching the original; this one is definitely the best of the three.  It's nothing spectacular, but those who enjoy silly, sappy romantic comedies will likely enjoy this film.

Score: 3.5/5

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