Quality: This score indicates entertainment value.
0 stars is horrible, while 5 stars is spectacular.
Political: This score addresses political messaging.
0 stars is aggressively anti-Conservative, while 5 stars is highly pro-Conservative. 3 stars is apolitical.
Moral/Religious (M/R): This score addresses moral and religious messaging.
0 stars is either intensely immoral or all-out, needless assault on Christianity. 5 stars is either great moral messaging or highly pro-Christian. 3 stars is inoffensive either way.
Quality – 4 stars, Political – 4 stars, M/R – 4.5 stars
Disney, a studio known for launching more tramps than ladies—more political correction than inspiration—has done the unthinkable: They’ve embraced simple innocence—an innocence rarely seen in modern America. After all, we today obsess over “our rights.” We numb ourselves with music, drink, drugs and thrills. We complain about politicians not catering enough to our demographics—whatever those are. In living for more, more, more, we’ve practically stopped living at all, but this remake of “Cinderella” might just guide us home.
And it’s from Disney. Go figure.
At the center of all this goodness is “Ella” (splendidly cast with Lily James). Ella loves her parents. She learns her lessons. Respecting good elders and forgiving bad ones, Ella is a perfect example of kindness and humility. Forget modern teen characters. Ella wouldn’t think of mocking and lecturing adults, but instead uses good deeds to remind them of forgotten values.
Still, I must admit, her committed service to a wicked stepmother and sisters is tough to swallow. Ella’s prettier than them, smarter, more eloquent, more everything—but she embraces slavery to honor her parents’ memory. Wow. Though it’s fun knowing how this angers feminists, I wonder if I could handle being with such a…well…pushover. Imagine taking Ella out to dinner:
“This is a most wondrous place!”
“Our table’s ready. You can stop sweeping the lobby now...and singing…”
“No singing? But I must celebrate the joy of you finding my slipper—”
“—Yeah, about that—“
“—when I dropped it at the ball!”
“Walmart. It was a Walmart.”
“Then, my dancing?”
“Probably not appropriate. The guys in Electronics seemed excited, though.”
“As was I! Excited when a gallant prince found my slipper!”
“Well, I picked it up. Thing was made of glass. I thought it was a vase. (Ella looks downcast) But hey, glass is good! I’m thinking of getting shoes made of…of…marble… (waitress arrives at table) Are you ready to order?”
“Oh, I never GIVE orders!”
“Ummm…yeah. What would you like?”
“Let’s see…hmmm…I believe I will have ‘15% gratuity added for parties of 10 or more.’”
“Thennnnnn…I’ll take the Seafood Extravaganza…for two.”
(Ella turns to the waitress) “Be warned, good maiden, Master enjoys his food hot and plentiful!”
“Don’t call me that. Not here, anyway.”
Okay, okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, but I was getting so used to seeing Disney teens in their natural state—like blaming parents during rehab, or carrying signs while screaming at protest marches. After decades of Britney’s and Miley’s, Ella’s goodness is downright unsettling.
Sweeping Ella off her feet is the handsome Prince Kit (Richard Madden). Kit is every woman’s dream; strong, smart, caring, yet humble. More than that, Kit loves and admires his father, whose health is failing, and he’s torn between honor to the throne and love for a commoner. Watching a young man with everything be principled as well, I wished some boys could see this story (none ever will). This Prince Charming is a far cry from the spoiled stars who are worshiped by today’s generations.
But surrounding every silver lining must be a cloud, so thank goodness for Cate Blanchett (probably my favorite actress), who shines once more as the cold, calculating stepmother. The wicked stepsisters are good as well, but Blanchett dominates. She’s just such a presence. Strutting about in fiendish delight, Blanchett adds crucial spice to a story dripping in saccharine; a cruel delay for any happily ever afters.
Nearly as good is Helena Bonham Carter as Ella’s fairy godmother. She’s daffy. She’s ditzy. Armed with a sparkling wand, she provides quite the light show, changing mice and a pumpkin into horses and a carriage. These visuals are amazing, but nothing dazzles like the transformation of Ella’s dress, which culminates in her spinning and spinning about. Little girls throughout the audience almost gasped with glee, and I couldn’t blame them. I mean, I’ve seen this done with magic dresses in countless movies, but nothing to match this. Truly spectacular stuff.
On many levels, this film is a sight to behold, from sweeping countrysides to majestic bluffs to gorgeous castles—so naturally, the magic must be first rate. And it is. But in the end, thanks to a modest heroine named Cinderella, this film’s greatest magic is neither special effects nor idealistic romance, but the purity of a life lived for others.
And that magic, my friends, can happen every day.