Here we have a Disney fairy tale at its most classic, complete with evil stepmother, fairy godmother, handsome prince, a midnight deadline, cute talking animal sidekicks, and storybook ending. Though Shrek and Enchanted would riff and parody these elements, Cinderella made them defining aspects of the genre, at least in film.
A staple for young audiences everywhere (and one of my VC’s childhood favorites), Cinderella is entirely sincere but doesn’t get overly saccharine. While it remained in the same mold, Cinderella was a huge improvement over Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, particularly in casting a female lead who could sing without breaking glass. The mice, who must have escaped from NIMH, are surprisingly helpful, and much of the film’s visual interest stems from seeing ordinary rooms and objects from a Borrower-like perspective, not to mention the Tom-and-Jerry-style antics with Lucifer. (Seriously, what kind of person would name their cat Lucifer?!) The rodents’ squeaky voices are more endearing than annoying and far less irritating than, say, the Minions from Despicable Me.
The animation never gets quite as impressive as some scenes in Pinocchio, but it’s still a lovely reminder of the beauty of hand-drawn animation. The music perhaps isn’t the type to get stuck in one’s head, but “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” recalls the wistfulness of “Someday My Prince Will Come,” as does the waltzing “So This Is Love.” The mice’s song “Cinderelly” and the bouncing ”Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” are the most memorable and fun, the kind to which kids (such as my VC in former years) love to sing along.
Writing this, I’ve found it difficult to not use “classic” for every other word, but that is the best term for the entire film. It’s more modern and entertaining than Snow White but would still never be made nowadays. (I’m waiting to see how Disney modernizes the live-action version next year.) It’s a snapshot of Disney earnestness, a cute, inspiring, ultimately satisfying fairy tale that adults can wax nostalgic for even as they introduce it to their own children.
Best line: (Cinderella, singing; sometimes we need a little of this to balance out contemporary cynicism) “A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep. In dreams you will lose your heartaches. Whatever you wish for, you keep. Have faith in your dreams, and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”Artistry: 8 Characters/Actors: 8 Entertainment: 7 Visual Effects: 10 Originality: 8 Watchability: 6 TOTAL: 47 out of 60
Next: #150 – The Nativity Story
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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