Everyone loves a fairy tale. When I was young, one of my favorites wasn’t exactly a classic, but Hilary Duff’s take on one. My sisters and I loved A Cinderella Story, which came out in 2004. I must have seen it a dozen times by the time I was 13, and then never since. I wanted to see if the film’s jokes, plots, and fashion sense would hold up, 14 years later. Would I enjoy this movie as an adult as much as I had as a preteen? To make this experiment even more fun, I sat down to watch the movie with a friend who had never seen the movie before. This article is a no-longer-live live blog of my and my friend’s commentary as we watched this movie.
For clarity, my comments are written in black. My friend, who will remain anonymous to conceal the shame of never having seen this classic film until last weekend, has comments written in blue.
- Oooh, ethereal intro music.
- Wow, her voice in the voiceover is so cringeworthy, like her Valley accent wasn’t strong enough and she’s trying to emphasize it.
- Of course her dad was her best friend, and of course, an adult male’s best friend is their 8-year-old child. Wow, being obsessed with your dad in a movie was such a thing in early 2000’s movies.
- Obviously, she worried about her clothes and makeup at age 8. And obviously, that’s the only thing she lacked in her life as a result of the sad situation of growing up without a mother. Because what else does a mother provide other than a fashion sense?
- I love a baseball metaphor, especially in a movie about a girl who isn’t too feminine or “not like other girls.” Also, this diner takes that metaphor very seriously. I think this movie does too.
- Those dresses that the step-sisters are wearing are a hideosity. And they even have a mom to tell them how to dress!
- Oh look, her castle snow globe broke during the earthquake and that’s how we know her father died. How symbolic. (I don’t think we’re giving the movie the sympathy it’s asking for.)
- That swim instructor is aggressively effeminate. This actor’s directions were clearly just “act gay,” because that’s definitely a character trait.
- I forgot all the waitresses at this diner have to wear those tacky rollerblades. Does she rollerblade to school?
- Why has Snoop Dog been a thing for so long? At least he’s not rocking a Snoop Lion look.
- Why yes, every American high school does have a posse of 3 beautiful teenagers who everyone is terrified of but also attracted to. Also, yes, every American high school is actually secretly the set of Mean Girls. What do you mean that’s not realistic?
- That’s that dude from the Big Bang Theory! The Jew! (Author’s Note: My friend meant Simon Helberg who is in fact, that dude from the Big Bang Theory.)
- Why is Carter wearing a cravat in this scene?
- Oh God, I forgot how much this look terrified me when I was a kid. I didn’t know what spray tanning meant, but if it always involved goggles that looked like spider eyes, I wanted nothing to do with it.
- Ooh, joking about eating disorders. Cute.
- Oh man, is Rhonda about to give Sam her wedding dress? I forgot how insane parts of this movie were.
- Spoiler: Rhonda did give Sam her wedding dress. This movie has no chill and I’m here for it.
- They’re meeting at 11 PM and she has to leave by 11:45 PM? Bad planning. But the movie gets points for successfully updating a fairy tale with technology by changing a grand clock into a cellphone alarm. I guess cellphones were sophisticated enough to have alarms on them by 2004 but had not yet evolved the capability of storing more than five photos at a time. Oh, how far we’ve come.
- All the weird and random costumes in the background of this party are super distracting from what’s probably supposed to be an intense scene.
- His hair is really terrible. Is that supposed to be attractive?
- Of course, they won the costume contest. She’s wearing a literal wedding dress. I would be disappointed if she didn’t win. Rhonda didn’t give up her wedding dress for her to lose.
- That’s some really terrible Botox. Almost as scary as her tanning glasses.
- Oh look, it’s more jokes about how all girls are shallow but somehow, Sam is different and above all that. All these jokes about the shallowness of “other girls” are super tiresome.
- Did that teacher just flirt with one of Austin’s goons? Jokes about teachers flirting with students are gross and have never been funny.
- Oh God, what is Carter wearing now? Cowboy hats are not casual school wear.
- I’m sorry that Sam is being duped into thinking she didn’t into Princeton, but why did she only apply to one school? What ever happened to safety schools? What kind of college prep are they running at their high school?
- The fact that Sam walks into the male locker room is pretty much the main thing I remember about this movie. And this speech is as incredible and fierce as I remember. Hilary Duff did that. She gave that speech for us.
- Why does Austin need to run out in the middle of the game? Why can’t you just call for a time out??? I don’t know how sports work, but I’m pretty sure those exist.
- That is a very weird shot of a raindrop falling.
- Way to bring back a symbol of waiting for rain in a drought. TBT to the most iconic speech every given (or #27).
- So great that the announcer/DJ goth girl, who’s not even a named character, gets relegated to a trophy at the end of the film. Love that. (I’m not kidding. IMDB literally lists her as DJ)
- I always love a happily ever after, but this is just too funny. Because obviously everyone’s idea of happily ever after is freshman year of college.
- Of course, the ending is in pink.
In conclusion: Does the film hold up to my 13-year old obsession? Sort of. As a cute teen rom-com, it’s pretty fun. It actually tries really hard for symbolism, which is a lot more than I expected from this movie. Hilary Duff both gets to give a speech about how she is perfectly fine without a man and gets the man, which seems ideal. But the jokes are seriously out of date. Teenagers popping laxatives and teachers flirting with students has never been funny and the jokes are even more cringe-worthy now. The movie leans hard into the message that Hilary Duff’s character isn’t hyper-feminine and shallow and therefore, she’s better than other girls, which is such a poisonous but typical early 2000s message. Additionally, I wasn’t swept away by the pathos and sappiness that the film kept trying to throw at the viewers; the smashed snowglobe to symbolizing the dad’s death or the triumph of the return of the diner (although in the movie’s defense, my viewing partner totally bought into all of that).
Overall, 8/10. Would re-watch again.