The Girl and I just got in from seeing the newest rendition of Cinderella. Cute. Very cute. Not for me.
This is not a feminist rant. This is not a part two of Happily Never After. This is just me feeling rather blasé about a movie that used to define my twenties and then became passed on to my daughter, and now I just feel kind of flat.
I feel like Kenneth Branagh tried too hard, like he was struggling to top something that didn’t need to be topped. Either that or Disney inputted too much of itself into something that was already quintessentially Disney. I wanted to love this movie. I loved that my Girl paid for my ticket and the candy that I ate that I now regret eating because it is feeling like a sugar-lump in my belly.
I wish I could say that the evening was magical. For the Girl, it was tremendously wonderful. She loved the new Frozen short. I couldn’t even tell that it was the original actors. She loved the movie. I wish I could say that I did.
Gosh, in just skimming what I have written, I am nothing more than Miss Miserable. And I’m not even unhappy.
Everything just felt so under-whelming. I felt like I was in the middle of someone trying to force me to like something through spectacle and no substance. Yes, I am fully aware the it’s Disney and that it’s a fairy tale. I’m cool with that. I love fairy tales and I’ll even admit that I love Disney.
But I didn’t love this movie. I couldn’t stand the mother. I couldn’t stand her dying words to Cinderella to “be courageous and be kind.” This reminded me of The Help and the servant giving wonderful advice to the little girl. Maybe that’s what Cinderella’s mother needed to tell her: “You is courageous. You is kind.” At least I would wake up out of my sugar induced entropy.
And then there’s Cinderella’s father. He’s a merchant. Got it. He travels all over the place. Got it. He loves his daughter. Got it. He re-marries and finds out that his new wife is not courageous or kind. But that’s okay because he loves his daughter who asks for a branch.
Ummmm….is she Belle? Wait a minute…that’s Emma Watson….
And Cinderella, by the way, is attached to her parents’ manor/farm/house that is filled with stuff but they are horribly broke (possibly by step-mother’s gambling habit…I’m not certain) in order to give context to Cinderella working all the time. Cinderella promises to love the house because it symbolizes her parents. But (SPOILER ALERT) she still marries the prince and they live in the castle and we don’t know what happens to the house unless, heaven forbid, we’ll have Cinderella part 2: the mice take over the house….God, I’d rather watch Sharknado part infinity.
Maybe that’s what’s bugging me about this….I’m looking at this film from the perspective of a writer who has been told that everything needs to tie together and all actions and words need to further the plot.
Cinderella has grown up to love her parents’ home which she immediately abandons to marry her prince. This doesn’t fit into her characterization.
Plus, she’s a huge Mary Sue. Her biggest flaw is that she has no flaw. What does she say to the person whose made her life miserable?
SPOILER ALERT: “I forgive you.”
At least Drew Barrymore could summon up enough of a Kevin-Costner-English-Iowa-Accent and say out of the side of her mouth, “After this, I will never think of you again” in Ever After.
Come on! Give Cinderella and the other princesses at least one flaw and don’t let it be that they are too naive and forgiving! Let them be human so my Girl and the other Girls who watch this movie will say, “Wow, I’m a lot like that.”
As much as I knew how the movie was going to end, I actually hoped, at a couple of points, that the prince didn’t win her heart, that she stuck with the house and met someone else. I wished that he wasn’t so perfect and his father wasn’t so wonderful, and that maybe I could find a character with whom I identified other than the cat.
A bunch of years ago, I wrote the beginnings of a novel that was based on Cinderella but was styled after Robin McKinley’s Rose Daughter, a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. In McKinley’s novel, all the characters had allegorical names, which I thought was rather cool. I abandoned my novel but am starting to think that maybe I should go back to it. Give Cinderella one more twist.
At the end of my novel, Cinderella doesn’t put on the shoe. She gives it to someone else because, sometimes, the shoe doesn’t always have to fit.