Warner Bros. // 2008 // 92 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // September 26th, 2008
Oh, get your mind out of the gutter. Those are pop music lyrics...well, pop music grunts.
Mary (Selina Gomez, Wizards of Waverly Place) has kind of a tough life. Her mother was a dancer who passed away when Mary was quite young. The monstrous pop star (Jane Lynch, Alvin and the Chipmunks) that Mary's mother once worked for needed a personal assistant, and determined to adopt Mary and put her to work. Now Mary is forced to spend her days working hard and being ridiculed by her two step-sisters. In the middle of her tough days, Mary pines to be something great. She wants nothing more than to be a terrific dancer, but that seems impossible. Fortunately, there may be a break for Mary on the horizon. Her longtime crush (Andrew Seeley, High School Musical) is back in town, and he might just provide her with a chance to break free from her wicked family.
I haven't seen the Hilary Duff film A Cinderella Story, but my Disney-obsessed nieces (don't tell them this is a Warner Bros. film) assure me that it has nothing to do with this "sequel." Another Cinderella Story is just what it sounds like, another story about a different modern-day Cinderella. It's kind of cute in the way it toys with the well-known story. For instance, this "Cinderella" doesn't lose a glass slipper, but rather an MP3 player. In order to determine who the "mystery girl" is, Mr. Prince Charming Pop Star asks that the girl name the most listened-to four songs on the MP3 player.
Despite these smile-inducing moments, the film mostly feels like your standard-issue follow-your-dreams flick. It's thoroughly predictable in every way, following a cookie-cutter formula from start to finish. While there's nothing in the film that will surprise you, at least it's not pull-your-hair-out obnoxious like some of these flicks tend to be. Star Selina Gomez is quite likable, and boy-toy Drew Seeley manages to have more charisma than your average piece of living room furniture. Jane Lynch seems to be having a lot of fun playing an incredibly bitchy stepmother, too. Good to see that the fairy tale stereotype of stepmothers as horrifyingly evil monsters isn't going to die anytime soon. Come on, if there's any place to do that sort of thing, it's in a film based on the story of Cinderella. Pre-teen girls are sure to enjoy the flick, and their parents may find it just tolerable enough to sit through.
I realize that I'm damning with faint praise here, but Another Cinderella Story is aimed at a very specific market that is pre-programmed to eat this stuff up no matter what the circumstances. When a film like this comes along, the only thing folks like me can hope for is that it's not too irritating. Thankfully, this one isn't too irritating the majority of the time, just predictable. Well, the sequence featuring the stupid misunderstandings (you know exactly what I'm talking about) is pretty grating. If I could magically remove just one sort of scene from the world of movies, it would most assuredly be the stupid misunderstanding scene. There's nothing I hate more than seeing some evil blonde run up and kiss the unsuspecting male lead in an attempt to break the heart of the unsuspecting female lead, causing her stomp off and vow never to speak to the male lead again. But I digress.
The hi-def transfer is kind of underwhelming, as the video features a lot of grain and a significant lack of sharp detail. There are quite a few times when I would have sworn I was watching a standard-def flick. Blacks aren't very deep, either. Sound is fine, with the energetic pop music sequences coming through the strongest. Also, don't be fooled by the seemingly large batch of supplements. The five making-of featurettes here run a grand total of 22 minutes, and have nothing of substance to say. There's also one music video and three sing-along sequences. Pre-teens may like what's being offered here, but I found it pretty uninteresting.
It's a really tough call on this one. While I definitely can't recommend the film to anyone outside of it's target audience, it does accomplish what it sets out to do with relative skill. However, I don't want to see Yet Another Cinderella Story turning up anytime soon.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (Widescreen)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Sing-along Tracks
* Music Video