I have had four family members ask me this weekend if Cinderella is okay for their kids. Here is a my quick review and parent guide.
This new live-action version of Cinderella from Disney doesn’t stray too far from the source material, which in this case is the animated Disney version from 1950. It stars a wide-eyed Lily James (familiar as Cousin Rose to Downton Abbey fans) as Ella, the beloved daughter of a beautiful mother and a merchant father. Ella’s mother teaches her that above all else, it is important to have courage and be kind (apparently very important, as this mantra is repeated about 20 times in the film). After the death of her mother, her father marries Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett), who along with her bratty daughters make life miserable for Ella right from the get-go. After Ella’s father dies, the abuse at the hands of her stepfamily gets worse, and after dirtying herself in the fireplace, she is bestowed the new name “Cinder-Ella”.
One of the aspects that I enjoyed in this film was that with it’s longer running length than it’s animated source, they delve into the backstories of the characters a bit more. Lady Tremaine is still an awful person, but at least we are given a reason for her cold heartedness. Even the prince has a backstory, which certainly makes him more sympathetic than the cartoon version, but there is still the pesky “love at first sight” plot which I don’t love.
Should you bring your kids to Cinderella? There isn’t much that’s objectionable here. There is no bad language, no sex, no explosions or violence, no drug references. The characters of Lady Tremaine and the Stepsisters are overtly mean – even cruel – to Cinderella, which may be a good talking point. Other talking points: Why does Cinderella stay? How are her mother’s words “Have courage brave and be kind” important?
I think kids under five may be bored. There is not as much comedic relief from talking mice (Cinderella’s live action mouse friends are bit less adorable), and it’s a dialogue driven film. On that same note, 14 year old Nate was also pretty bored. His review of the movie was that it was nothing new. Granted, teenaged boys are probably not the target audience, but if you are picking a movie for the whole family it’s definitely something to keep in mind.
Cinderella is playing in theaters now.