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Disney Does Cinderella—Again

The Disney studio’s latest effort to reinvent one of its animated classics as a live-action movie is sumptuously produced and well-cast…but it bored me to tears. We don’t need a new rendition of Cinderella any more than we did a reboot of Spider-Man. Of course, I’m not the
target demographic. I suppose kids deserve an opportunity to see this timeless story on a theater screen; that’s the only case to be made for resuscitating such timeworn material. Never mind the enduring 1950 Disney cartoon classic, or Drew Barrymore’s Ever After, or Ella Enchanted with Anne Hathaway. In today’s Hollywood, anything worth doing is worth doing again… and again…and
again.

Richard Madden-Cinderella

(Courtesy of Disney)

Lily James, late of Downton Abbey, is a sweet and likable heroine. Cate Blanchett arches her eyebrows expertly and stops just short of caricature as the wicked stepmother. Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger embody the self-centered stepsisters just as they should. Richard Madden, is a stalwart Prince Charming and, best of all, the peerless Derek Jacobi adds poignancy to his characterization of an aging King. The cast is fleshed out by other talented actors including Stellan Skarsgård, Nonso Anozie, and Helena Bonham Carter, as the Fairy Godmother.

Screenwriter Chris Weitz has brought some new ideas to the Charles Perrault story and borrowed more than a bit from the Disney cartoon, as well, incorporating Cinderella’s mice friends, who are now rendered as CG creatures. He has also managed to breathe life into potentially two-dimensional characters and filled the script with graceful dialogue.

But it’s still Cinderella, and anyone over the age of 10 knows the story all too well. Parents will be happy to have a film they can take their kids to see, but they may have a difficult time stifling a yawn; I know I did.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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