Hilary Duff stars in a modern day retelling of "Cinderella" in the cleverly-titled A Cinderella Story, a movie that truly defies expectations.
There's nothing remarkable about A Cinderella Story other than it is much, much better than I was expecting - which wasn't a whole lot. In fact, the previews made this movie look insanely silly and pointless, and the very presence of Hilary Duff didn't help. In contrast, the actual movie is a delightful, harmless comedy with a few good laughs and entertaining characters; its fluff, but its entertaining fluff, and as teen romantic comedies go, it is pretty decent.
Duff is Sam, a girl who has grown up under the wicked hand of her evil stepmother (Jennifer Coolidge) and her stepsisters after her father dies. Now in high school, she is looking to go to Princeton, but her stepmother would prefer she keeps working at the diner she owns. As in "Cinderella," Sam is treated pretty horribly except by her fairy godmother who is the manager of the diner and is played by Regina King. Throw in Prince Charming in the form of Austin (Chad Michael Murray), a popular jock who somehow isn't able to recognize Sam without a mask. And what about the glass slipper? Well, this time around - it's a cell phone. Yes, a cell phone.
Okay, so some of the little things in the movie don't make much sense, but it's easy to overlook little flaws when you're having fun. It is a bit annoying when Duff continuously refuses to tell her Prince Charming the truth, even when she knows he's the most popular guy in school and truly likes her - it just doesn't make much sense. Furthermore, Austin dances and almost kisses her at the ball, but she's wearing a tiny mask at the time - afterwards, he completely doesn't recognize her without the mask. What about her voice? Her hair? Her body? Like, whatever.
Nevertheless, these minor infractions don't really hurt the film, which moves along at a quick place and provides some fun situations and characters. Sam has a sidekick in the form of geeky Dan Byrd, who, of course, has a crush on the popular bitchy girl, Shelby (Julie Gonzalo). Byrd does an excellent job, but the rest of the cast is pretty good, too - even Duff, who I'm not a fan of.
A Cinderella Story will, of course, appeal most to teenage girls, but as a date movie, its pretty harmless. This is easily my favorite Hilary Duff movie.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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