Amazon’s Cinderella: An Almost Perfect Mix of Cringe and Modernity

Zarin Mahmud, Staff Writer

Gear up, folks. 

Yet another Cinderella reboot is upon us, this time from the cinematic studios of our favorite, totally feminist, international conglomerate site and quarantine store, Amazon. To be honest, it was quite ambitious of Amazon to try to recreate a classic Disney story, especially being self-aware of their inevitably inept cinematic executions. Regardless, the movie is surprisingly endurable – a three out of five without a doubt. Following in the footsteps of at least 21 other adaptations of Cinderella, this Amazon reboot ventures into the “ok” territory. I watched it so you wouldn’t have to – unless you want to.

Featured in this reinstallment are singer Camila Cabello as Cinderella, Frozen’s Idina Menzel as the stepmother, Nicholas Galitzine as Prince Robert, Pierce Brosnan and Minnie Driver as the King and Queen, respectively, and James Corden as our favorite mouse. While Corden is literally everywhere in recent media, his presence in Cinderella is thankfully minimal.

Though there is an unenthusiastic undertone to any review of this movie, it still has quite significantly resonated with audiences. The film currently holds an 87% positive audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, though critics have given an unenviable 39% rotten rating and have not been so enamored. This movie, regardless of its seeming unvaried, can be quite the opposite if you make it.

Despite critical reviews of the movie, it is arguably the perfect cinematic adventure for some consolation amid the school-induced stress some like myself may face. Yes, it is full of dodgy editing choices and irrevocably clunky dialogue at times, but it does not flat if the rubric grades on cringe. To elaborate, the movie’s ridiculousness can be calming in the otherwise overwhelming high school environment.

That doesn’t change that the latest adaptation’s attempt at social commentary was a bit off-putting. Our heroine, played by the bona fide singer Camila Cabello, is an ambitious young woman whose dreams are bigger than the world will allow, but with the help of her rendition of the classic fairy godmother, Fab G, she perseveres to make her dreams come true – more specifically, by attending the ball and meeting a potential client.

This Cinderella is a bold new take on the traditional story we all grew up with; it is heavily marketed as a feminist take on the classic fairytale. However, it would be appropriate to say that its narrative is ignorant at best and admittedly propagandist at worst. Cinderella’s entrepreneurial mentality is bound to be bland-ish, for a lack of better words, but it adds some depth to the reboot nonetheless, I suppose. 

The movie seems to want to correct inherently anti-feminist parts of the narrative but promotes a corporatized and enormously outdated idea of feminism. In other words, it only takes a jab at the “marrying a prince” part of the tale and leaves the rest up to a fantasy that is antiquated at best. In the world of Amazon’s Cinderella, women simply need to get a job, and that is beyond enough to break free from the shackles of oppression – really, the only obstacle between women and emancipation is work and cash.

Feminism is capitalism, or at least, so it appears based on Cinderella 2021.

Though definitely not a surprising sentiment from Amazon, this idea is in no way conducive to women’s liberation – it only works to uplift the patriarchy by putting a Disney-printed band-aid over the issue of sexism. The brand’s self-awareness is smug and comes off as if the filmmakers knew the film’s social commentary was innately flawed. It is pretty cringeworthy to watch regardless. 

As much as I love a completely dumb, fun, bad movie, this was off-putting. I did still enjoy the movie, though; ideological issues are a feature of Amazon productions, and I am here to enjoy the flaws. 

It is arguable that despite these thematic flaws, the musical aspect of the work works almost effortlessly. I thoroughly enjoyed the contemptuous musical’s hand-picked choices of both recycled and original pop songs, especially Cabello’s single, “Million to One.” Not to expose myself, but I was singing that track for at least a week non-stop after its release.

Yes, the film diverges from the traditional story by having the Prince abdicate his throne to allow Cinderella to pursue her dream of becoming a dressmaker. Yes, it overly relies on archetypal characters. Yes, the production is substandard. It is not a critics’ favorite, but that doesn’t make it irredeemable. 

In juxtaposition to the other phenomenal revamps of this same story, this movie is not the best but unquestionably earns the crown for most cringeworthy. Not only does this new reboot challenge the formality of previous ones, but it quite effectively spins a humorous tale.

If you want to enjoy an irreverent yet funny movie, Amazon’s Cinderella is for you. Though it fails at promoting feminism, it does not fall flat on attempted humor, possibly placing it on your watch lists.