Scary or Not Scary? A Parent’s Review of Camila Cabello’s ‘Cinderella’

cinderella review cat1
Amazon Prime Video

Best For Ages 8 To 14

*Warning: Minor spoilers ahead*

Are you the kind of parent who has qualms about your child’s penchant for princess dresses, feeling like it’s a vestige of an older cultural mindset that told girls they’d be lucky to be swept off their feet and marry a prince? Or do you and your 12-and-under kids live for dancing around the living room with a fun singalong sesh? If so, pull on a tulle party frock and settle in to watch Cinderella starring Camila Cabello on Amazon Prime. It’s a contemporary corrective to all the passive princesses you’ve ever rolled your eyes at, and a toe-tapping spectacle that’s ideal for family movie night to boot. Find out everything parents need to know about the buzzy reboot in our Cinderella review.

The Plot

In this version, written and directed by Kay Cannon of Pitch Perfect fame, Cinderella is introduced as Ella who gets cinder smudges on her face while catering to her stepsisters (they’re funny) and stepmom (played by a stern Idina Menzel). Stepmom coaches the girls—primarily her bio daughters, and to a lesser extent Ella—to find rich husbands since, as she explains to Ella in a mean tirade and to her daughters by singing Madonna’s 1984 hit “Material Girl,” it’s the only way women can have security since they can’t work. But Ella’s unmoved, because as she’s belted out in a showstoppery number at the outset, she’s shooting to be a million-to-one success story as a fashion designer.

Meanwhile, at the castle, the handsome-but-unserious prince, played by dreamboat Nicholas Galzatine, is refusing to marry a titled princess from a nearby kingdom because he’s not in love with her. The king (Pierce Brosnan) suggests he find a suitable bride at the ball, the queen (Minnie Driver) agrees and our prince unenthusiastically goes along with the plan, expressed through his winning rendition of “Somebody to Love.” (Parents in the audience will enjoy the nostalgic warm feels recalling Freddie Mercury’s 1981 rendition with Queen). However, Prince Ne’er Do Well perks up when he spies a peasant girl—our heroine Ella, natch—in a crowd, sassing the king during a royal address. When the prince disguises as a commoner and chats Ella up in the town square, he’s ensorcelled by her plucky personality, creative ambition and candid assessment of how the townspeople regard him as a bozo. He suggests she come to the ball to meet wealthy patrons to buy her dresses, but doesn’t reveal his true identity.

Later, when Ella is dressed for the ball, her stepmother throws ink on her, ruining her dress. Poor Ella’s told to forget her silly fashion designing ideas and going to balls in general because she’s been promised as a bride to a local well-off but creepy suitor. By the time Ella’s Fairy Godmother shows up (played by the fabulous Billy Porter in a dress that looks like exactly what the Broadway and TV star usually rocks on red carpets), we’re ready for our girl to enjoy a little magical good luck. But how is she going to be swept off her feet by the prince, and also become a ball gown designer for the rich and famous? You’ll have to stream the flick to find out.

What Parents Need To Know

Cinderella clocks in at just under two hours, and while it does have a few CGI mice (including James Corden) who turn into footmen for the ball, there’s not a lot of movie magic (like animated characters) to keep very small kids entertained. But the hook-laden songs, fast-moving camera and quick edits, along with a couple of big production numbers, are sure to engage older elementary school age children. They’ll also enjoy the rags-to-royalty story (even though, at this rather lengthy run time, the action does sag a bit in the middle). There’s no swearing and no scary parts, except for a couple of dramatic moments when Stepmom gets all mean and judgy on Ella. And there’s only one happy-ending smooch between the Prince and Ella, even though they have a winning romantic chemistry. As for relationships, there’s a nice subplot in which the king and queen have a disagreement but eventually make up, which says something about trying hard in long-term relationships. (So there’s a bone thrown to you, parent viewers.)

For older kids, say musical theater lovers and Camila Cabello fans ages 12 and up, the movie affords an opportunity to talk about how the fairy tale the story is based on dates back to the 1600s, and how in those days the heroine had fewer choices in life, since in the original tale she wasn’t given a talent or any opportunity other than marrying a prince. And parents will appreciate how the prince’s proposal pans out and that Ella really does manage to “have it all” in career and life. And finally, parents can’t help but chuckle at the humor woven throughout. Writer-director Cannon wrote for uber-clever 30 Rock, a show’s whose offbeat sensibility shows up here in lines like “I’m the new town cryer, I took over from Gary. I know that you miss him, but he died of dysentery.”

Run time:
113 minutes

MPAA rating: PG

Purewow Rating: 4 Stars

A feminist retelling of the classic tale has humor and action for the littles, light romance and plot twists for the tweens and catchy tunes for the whole fam.

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dana dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...