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Warner Home Video presents
A Cinderella Story (2004)

"There's something I've always wanted to tell you. You're not very pretty, and you're not very bright."
- Fiona (Jennifer Coolidge)

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: October 19, 2004

Stars: Hilary Duff, Chad Micheal Murray
Other Stars: Jennifer Coolidge, Regina King, Dan Byrd, Madeline Zima, Andrea Avery
Director: Mark Rosman

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG for mild language, innuendo
Run Time: 01h:36m:12s
Release Date: October 19, 2004
UPC: 085393145224
Genre: romantic comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- D+B+B+ B

DVD Review

Out of the numerous group of 'tween queens that seem to grace our local cinemas each season, Hilary Duff is bringing up the rear of the group. Both Lindsay Lohan and Mandy Moore have released hilariously splendid comedies (Mean Girls and Saved!, respectively), but Duff has been stuck in vehicles that have been nothing more than just an a showcase (ahem) for the star's singing career.

Now we have A Cinderella Story, a film that, while not reaching the depths of The Lizzie Maguire Movie or Raise Your Voice, is yet another low point in the career of the teen star, but hey, at least it doesn't have her singing. The film is a loose retelling of the classic story of Cinderella—a sure sign that Hollywood is running out of fresh ideas is when the glass slipper has been replaced by a cell phone.

Duff plays Sam, an L.A. teen who works an overload of hours at her stepmother's (Coolidge) diner. She drives an old and beaten car and is, of course, beautiful. Her life is not only maddening because of her stepmother, but also her two stepsisters, Gabriella (Avery) and Brianna (Zima), who torment her at each and every step of the way.

And what would a retelling (again, a loose retelling) be without a Fairy Godmother and the resident Prince Charming, each of which are in supply here. The Fairy Godmother is played by Regina King in a thankless role as the manager of the diner that Sam works at. She of course comes through for Samantha at the last minute as she is on her way to meet her Prince Charming. Charming (Murray) happens to be Austin Ames, the star quarterback and most popular guy in school, and though he doesn't know it, Sams's online love interest. So when Sam finally decides to meet her cyber Prince it inevitably leads up to the moment where Sam is rushed off and Austin must use her cell phone to discover her true identity.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that A Cinderella Story is an absolute mess when it comes to anything resembling a plot; what is surprising is that, in some ways, the film is sort of sweet. For a young girl, it's a surefire winner as Duff manages to be likable in the lead role, but the film plods along with ridiculous missteps that could be solved if the two romantic leads simply picked up a phone or emailed each other. Ah, but then we would be without a movie, and we would not get to see the list of stock romantic comedy ingredients that litter the film.

But this shouldn't matter to the film's target audience, young girls who would likely follow Duff through the Gates of Hell. It is possible to make a smart and funny teen comedy, but here we are asked to suspend disbelief as there is not a single high school in America where Duff would be a castoff . The picture also derails after the moderately successful meeting at the ball when it becomes just another stupid and message-shoving teen film. Seriously, how would we as humans ever know the value of making the right decision without the influx of teen films that get released each year.

Standing amongst this mess is a group of incredibly talented comic performers. One may wonder just why exactly Jennifer Coolidge decided to participate given her impeccable comedic abilities, but she makes the best out of what is here, though her character is far from being original. King does a credible job as the Fairy Godmother but her "you go girl" approach seems unwelcome.

Director Mark Rosman, who seems to be Duff's director of choice, jumbles what could have been a moderately successful film that put a fresh spin on the old story of Cinderella. Instead, he tries too hard to make the film cute and inventive when, if he would have just stuck with the basic story, he could not have gone wrong.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: D+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer for A Cinderella Story is a nice effort from Warner. And while the film isn't a visually stimulating experience, this transfer does the film justice. Colors are vibrant throughout with no bleeding. The light earth tones of suburban L.A. come off well with no grain and nice depth, while edge enhancement is never a problem.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is largely a center-channel affair with only a few instances where the surround speakers come alive. This occurs with some slight ambient sounds, including scenes in the diner and those set at the ball. Dialogue is crisp and clear with no distortion. This is a nice mix, but an average one.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 23 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Hilary Duff, Chad Michael Murray, Madeline Zima, Andrea Avery, and Dan Byrd.
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Interactive Find Your Prince/Princess game
  2. Screen Tests
Extras Review: The special features are led off by a commentary from Duff, Chad Michael Murray, Madeline Zima, Andrea Avery, and Dan Byrd. There is nothing exciting happening in this track aside from a lot of talking and laughing between the group. They offer very little information about the making of the film; instead, we just get a bunch of anecdotes about what happened on the set the day that a given scene was shot.

A few deleted scenes are also offered, though they do not add up to anything substantial as most were rightfully excised. The film's theatrical trailer as well as a music video for Our Lips Are Sealed by Hilary and Haylie Duff are each offered in nice video quality. Finally, a silly interactive game and selected screen tests are also offered.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

A Cinderella Story is a film that will appeal to young girls, its target audience, but very few others. Duff has enough charm to pull the off role but her level of talent is another story—she seems lost in a role that is just not right for her.


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