GUEST CRITIC #11: Cinderella


As busy I get from time to time, I find that I can't see every movie under the sun, leaving my friends and colleagues to fill in the blanks for me.  As poetically as I think I wax about movies on this website as a wannabe critic, sometimes a simple sentence or two from a friend says it all.  Sometimes, it inspires me to see the movie too and get back to being my circle's go-to movie guy.  Sometimes, they save me $9 and you 800+ words of blathering.  In a new review series, I'm opening my site to friend submissions for quick-hit movie reviews.


My eleventh "Guest Critic" has graced this website once before as a hostess and all-round coolest aunt ever.  Her niece "Becca" was immortalized with her take on "The Prince and Me" in time for its 10th anniversary last fall.  This time around, it's the big girl's turn on a movie that is sure to rope in plenty more little girls like her niece.    

Ms. Natalie Dybala is Peotone High School Blue Devil, just like yours truly.  Natalie will tell you that she is a fellow educator like myself.  She works as online math teacher for the K12 International Academy out of Hendron, Virginia, but resides in Orlando, Florida.  She absolutely does not miss the Midwestern weather she grew up in, despite her fair complexion in the Florida sun.  Mess with her and you get the claws of her onery cat Gandalf.  When she's not teaching, Natalie also works in Orlando as a Photopass Photographer at Walt Disney World, the mecca of all things wonderful, and an appropriate setting for this film and guest critic review.  


I am a teacher, not a writer.  I teach Math, not English.  My words are never eloquent, and I am in awe of Don’s ability to put the vision on the silver screen into literary genius.  With that being said, I humbly offer this review of Disney’s "Cinderella," and apologize for my lack of descriptive text necessary to do it justice.  

Walt Disney’s animated classic "Cinderella" is wonderfully voice by Ilene Woods as Cinderella and Eleanor Audley as Lady Tremaine.  It depicts a common girl abused by her stepmother and stepsisters after the death of her father.  Her fairy godmother shows up and grants her a wish to go to the ball, where she meets the love of her life, who happens to be a man of few words (and a few stanzas in a song), Prince Charming.  The clock strikes midnight, and she runs off, losing a shoe while the Prince chases her.  After a few weeks of searching, the shoe is matched to her, she marries the Prince and they live happily ever after.  Everyone KNOWS this story.

Disney’s live action "Cinderella" is the SAME story plot, but there are a some differences: you meet Ella’s mother, the first meeting with the Prince is not at the ball, and you see more of the relationship between the Prince and the King to name a few.  Yet, there is a beauty and a magic to the live action movie that creates such a wonderful theatrical experience that I WANT to see this movie again and again in the theaters just to breathe in the moments that flicker across the screen.

Hayley Atwell wonderfully play’s Ella’s mother, and her death brought tears to my eyes.  Had I not been in the theater with my sister and 6-year old niece, I would have been a sobbing mess.  And it is Hayley’s portrayal of Ella’s mother that sets the heart of this movie. 

The narration of the story keeps it moving at an appropriate pace.  You understand Lady Tremaine’s reasons for envying Ella.  Cate Blanchet plays Lady Tremaine so well.  Her subtle facial movements speak volumes.  The stepsisters were a bit dumber than I would have liked, but they provided some comedic relief. 

The Prince is easy on the eyes, and has personality, which is more than you can say for the animated movie.  The Grand Duke is kind of a jerk, but you understand his motives, which is a different take on the character than the animated movie.  The King brings an additional human touch, and caused my third tear jerking moment of the movie (the second was the death of Ella’s father). 

My favorite part was the Fairy Godmother.  Helena Bonham Carter was so wonderful and magical in this character.  It was just perfect!  Of course, Lily James was absolutely fabulous as Ella.  She embodied the innocence and hopefulness of the character. 

I was pleased to see some key scenes from the animated movie played out in the live action one.  I also enjoyed the continuation of the mice as Ella’s friends, and appreciate that they were not over-animated, but had clear personalities and names.  Lucifer was there as well.  I was disappointed that Bruno, the dog from the animated movie, was not a part of the live action movie, and I did not like the addition of the lizards in the pumpkin scene.  I also wish the stepsisters sang “The Nightingale Song” from the original movie.

Nevertheless, the real magic in this movie is the costumes, sets, and score; gorgeous, magical, and whimsical.  Listen closely to the score and you can hear bits of the original animated musical themes.  You are submerged in this world, and it is incredibly beautiful.

Even though the story is the same, and we all know how it ends, there is a different feel to the live action one.  It is not a “girl getting swept off of her feet” love story.  It is a “what goes around comes around” love story.  Ella’s mother tells her to “Have courage and be kind” and Ella continues to do that throughout the movie, and it is Ella’s actions that are rewarded, with the appearance of her Fairy Godmother. 

I left the theater not wanting to be swept off my feet by a Prince Charming, but to live life with courage and kindness, knowing that those characteristics are rewarded.  Enjoy the movie!


I've been on the record as being a skeptic that avoid these Disney classic "re-imaginings," but a review like that from Natalie (and also many more of my friends and followers) might just twist my arm to try it myself.  She definitely raised my interest and I trust her (and her neice's) opinion.  I'd like to thank Natalie for being my eleventh "guest critic!"  Thanks for letting me play along and thanks for thinking of me with this review!

Let's keep this going.  Friends, if you see a movie that I don't see and want to be featured on my website (and get a fun fake biography written about you), hit up my website's Facebook page and you can be my next GUEST CRITIC!