I went to see the new Cinderella movie today and I had a lot of feelings about it. This post is basically wall-to-wall spoilers so don’t read it if that is something you care about.
Okay, so there’s this girl called Ella
She’s growing up in an advert for fabric softener or picnic blankets or having servants or something
She talks to the geese and mice and whatever
And she is her parents’ little princess
NOT AN ACTUAL PRINCESS THOUGH
THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ACTUAL PRINCESSES
WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS IS
Anyway, her mother dies suddenly of Plot
I mean they don’t even pretend it’s something else
She doesn’t even get that significant cough that people die of in period dramas
She just kind of keels over
But not before she screws her daughter up for life
By telling her to always let people treat her like crap
(Actually she says “Have courage and be kind”
But the result is kind of the same.)
Anyway, years pass
Ella grows up
And her father presumably takes some kind of correspondence course with the University of Poor Life Choices
Because one day he’s like
“Welp, better marry a no-good, gold-digging meaniepants now.”
And he brings home Galadriel.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to marry Galadriel
Except Ella’s dad doesn’t bring home this Galadriel
He brings home this one
Which is a mistake
No matter how cool her outfits are.
Whose name is actually Lady Tremaine
Throws a bunch of parties and stuff
Which Ella’s dad is not really into
In fact, he basically immediately starts acting like this whole marriage thing was something he was forced into
Even though he specifically says a couple of scenes earlier that he wants to do it
For happiness reasons
And goes on about how much he misses Ella’s mother
Which, I mean
I’m not a marriage expert or anything
But that seems like a good way to hurt the feelings of your new wife
The one you really wanted to marry and be happy with.
It’s not totally inconceivable that she might be listening.
She lives here.
Then again, he’s about to go away for several months
So I guess he can say what he likes.
He asks Ella what she’d like him to bring her back
She asks for the first branch he brushes against
In order to have a dead branch to cradle sadly when they hear that he’s died
Because THERE IS LITERALLY NO OTHER REASON SHE WOULD WANT A DEAD BRANCH WTF
Luckily he does die
So that all works out okay.
Sadly, Ella does not have long to cuddle her branch
Because she has a lot of important being-taken-advantage-of to do
It is not necessarily this movie’s fault that Ella doesn’t have a backbone
Cinderella is literally a story about a girl whose life sucks until a prince rescues her
So are a lot of stories
And there has been a recent trend towards playing with that a little bit and approaching fairytales with a slightly more modern perspective
During this part of the movie I kept thinking about Ella Enchanted and Ever After
Which are both Cinderella movies that give the character some agency
And they’re kind of better than this one.
Cinderella only has one dress
And sleeps in a fireplace
So Lady Tremaine and her daughters, Anastasia and Drizella
Oh, yeah, she has daughters
I forgot to tell you that
But I feel like you might have known
They bat around a couple of ideas for nicknames for Ella
In what is probably the most awkward way they could have made the title of the movie make sense
Before settling on …drumroll…
Eventually Ella gets fed up and goes for a ride on her horse
Wait a minute
The family are so poor now
And Ella is so mistreated
That she has to run an entire household and a farm
On her own
Wearing the same totally inappropriate dress every day
But she still has a horse?
Anyway, she meets a handsome prince
Who says he is an apprentice called Kitt
And apparently Ella thinks apprentices
Whether called Kitt or otherwise
Go out hunting with their entourages on a regular basis
Because she accepts that without question.
She also refuses to tell him her name
Ella seems to think mystery is very sexy
Because it’s basically the entirety of her playbook when it comes to picking up princes.
If a guy is looking at you like this
He might already be into you
Just a thought.
Also, they spend almost all of this conversation riding their horses around each other in a little circle
Maybe that’s sexy too.
What do I know?
So the Prince goes back to the palace
Gets his portrait painted
Hangs out with his dad
And annoys the crap out of everyone by talking about the time he met a real live ladyperson.
Again, this is a problem with Cinderella in general, not just this movie
And at least they actually get to meet before the ball
Where have they been keeping this dude?
Can you buy prince-sized boxes
Made of lady-resistant Tupperware?
In other palace news
Has been somehow split into his good and bad halves
Which I guess is maybe a side effect of being converted from animation to live action?
I’m guessing Disney made all the characters sign a waiver.
The good half is the Captain (left)
The bad half is the Grand Duke (right)
For now, though, they’re both kind of serving the same purpose as the Grand Duke does in the cartoon
Everyone is trying to get the prince interested in the numerous princesses he has to choose from
For marriage purposes
But for someone who enjoyed meeting his first lady so much, he is not that interested in meeting more of them
So eventually the king figures that the best way to focus his mind would be to let him throw a party for every “maiden” in the kingdom
There was a lot of shaky logic in this part of the movie
Like, they were semi-justifying the party because it would make the people of the kingdom happy
Except that people who either own or have interacted with penises will not be invited
And I suspect that that is a majority
Who will be, if anything, less happy
Although at least they get to enjoy penises.
The king and the prince have more than one conversation
About how the king totally gets that the prince doesn’t want to marry a random princess
And he isn’t going to make him
So why is this even an issue?
The prince is not a handwritten invitations type of guy
So he just kind of throws it up on Facebook
Which in fairytale times meant BOOKING some dude to yell at crowds of people using his FACE
Who is in town to vaguely justify her situation to one of her former servants
(Apparently she puts up with Lady T’s crap because of how much her parents loved their house
They probably loved their daughter not getting abused more
But, again, what do I know?)
Hears the proclamation and rushes home to Awfulness HQ to tell everyone.
So Lady T orders three dresses
One for Anastasia
One for Drizella
And one for FUCK YOU, THAT’S WHO
Yeah, for some reason Ella thinks the third one is for her
I assume because she has put two and two together and figured out that Lady T is not a “maiden”
But Lady T breaks out a can of born-again virginity she’s been saving for just such an occasion as this
And Ella has to go and make a dress with her mouse friends.
A WORD ON THESE MOUSE FRIENDS
These mice are the SAME MICE FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE MOVIE
THE BEGINNING OF THE MOVIE WHEN ELLA WAS A CHILD
HOW OLD ARE THESE MICE???
So Ella finishes her dress
Actually she was just altering one of her mother’s
And floats downstairs in it
Apparently STILL expecting Lady T to be like SURE DARLING LET’S GO I LOVE YOU
But what actually happens is they rip her dress up.
And she is sad about it.
In fact, she goes outside to be sad about it there.
It’s her mother’s dress
And now it’s torn
I want you to remember that
IT’S HER MOTHER’S DRESS
AND IT’S IMPORTANT TO HER
While outside, she runs into her fairy godmother
Who may look like Helena Bonham Carter
But I’m fairly sure it’s an imposter
Because there’s no way Helena Bonham Carter looked this un-gothic of her own free will
And she does all the pumpkin into carriage stuff
And turns a goose into the carriage driver
And he says “I can’t drive, I’m a goose.”
And that was the highlight of the movie for me.
Then Ella is like “I can’t go to the ball in this dress, it’s ripped.”
And Fauxlena Bonham Carter is like “Sure, no problem, I’ll make you another one.”
But Ella says “No, just fix this one
IT WAS MY MOTHER’S AND IS IMPORTANT TO ME”
So FBC says “Of course”
Then magics her A TOTALLY DIFFERENT DRESS
And Ella is fine with that
Because frankly it would probably freak her out if someone actually listened to her.
So Cinderella goes to the ball
I actually don’t have much to say about that
Except that during this scene she and the prince basically dance into everyone repeatedly like well-dressed Roombas
And also what is the opposite of a sausagefest?
Because that’s what this party should be
Like, I get that there would be nobledudes there
But there would also be nobleladies
IN ADDITION to every maiden in the land
Then the prince takes Ella out to his playground
Because it is easy to impress girls when you are a prince
And Ella still refuses to tell him her name
Because that is more of a third date conversation
Oh, and one of her shoes falls off
Because glass is a stupid thing to make shoes out of
The prince puts it back on
And that was probably meant to be romantic
Only glass does not breathe
And feet sweat a lot
So I feel like maybe that’s just proof that he likes her enough to put up with footstink rather than the moment he really fell for her
It is midnight.
And Ella has to go before the magic wears off
In case he sees her looking all servanty and isn’t into her anymore.
Even though that’s exactly how she looked when he did the crazy eyes over her.
Or maybe she’s worried about getting home because her horses are about to turn back into mice.
Why didn’t she bring her actual horse with her?
The point is
The point is that she runs off
Leaving a shoe
But no identifying information
(I want to see a version of this story
Where the prince gives up on finding her
And just clones her from DNA in her foot sweat.)
HERE WE DIVERGE FROM THE ORIGINAL CARTOON SLIGHTLY
Because Lady T figures out who the mysterious prince-hogging stranger was pretty quickly
And makes a deal with the Archduke
Whereby she gets to be a countess and to marry off her daughters
In exchange for helping to stop the prince marrying Ella.
The Archduke is up for this
Probably because he resents having to share his role with the Captain
Who is better than him
But this turns out to just be a ploy to needlessly make the movie longer
Because the prince goes ahead with his “put this weird shoe on every foot in the kingdom” plan anyway
This tweet from writer and all-round funnyperson Mara Wilson is relevant here
Prince Charming might have been face-blind
— Mara Wilson (@MaraWritesStuff) March 18, 2015
Oh, and then the king falls victim to that lethal Plot that’s going around
I’m not really sure why
But that happens
MEANWHILE AT SHITTY PARENTING TOWERS
Ella gets locked in an attic
Team Get The Prince Laid arrives
Shoe in hand
I would not want to own that hand
It must be verruca city in that shoe right now
The shoe does not fit Drizella or Anastasia
How freakishly tiny are Ella’s feet
That not one other person in the kingdom can cram their hooves in there?
The ARMY OF DUDES it apparently takes to guard this one shoe are about to leave
When Captain Goodguy hears singing
And the prince throws off his soldier disguise
Even an army is not enough to guard one stupid shoe without supervision
And the Captain goes to investigate.
In the attic, Ella tells Lady T that she’s only ever tried to be kind to her
Which is kind of a weaksauce version of the scene in Ever After
Where the Cinderella character lays into her stepmother about how lousy she is at stepmothering
You guys should probably just watch Ever After
So Ella leaves with the Prince
And there is a wedding and the movie is over
What about the house?
It was so important that she stay in the house that she put up with all that abuse
But she’ll leave it immediately for Prince Crazyeyes?
Who’s going to look after those ridiculously old mice now?
Does Ella ever get to wear a dress that isn’t blue?
Does the goose ever get his driving licence?
I have questions, Disney.
It’s not that I didn’t like this movie. I enjoyed watching it and laughed at the funny bits. I guess I just felt like it wasted some potential. Going into it, I actually thought it was going to be a direct remake of the Disney cartoon. It wasn’t, and didn’t have any of the songs – except in the credits – and that’s okay, because we can all rewatch the cartoon for that. But it’s not like a live-action version is something that hasn’t been done before either and this felt kind of weak to me, especially compared to the pre-existing Ever After and Ella Enchanted. I’m happy to give it another chance when it comes out on DVD, though!