A Cinderella Story

Okay, nobody expects a movie like A Cinderella Story to be much of anything, but even with lowered expectations, this film blows. A remake of the Cinderella fairy tale isn't that original, but changing the slipper to a cell phone and the fairy godmother to a sassy black waitress is just idiotic. The target audience of this film falls squarely into the camp of fans of Hilary Duff, but even they will tire of it's lame attempts to update the fairy tale. Duff (Cheaper by the Dozen, The Lizzie Maguire Movie) is Sam, the smart, cute girl that everybody ignores. She spends her time slaving away at her stepmother Fiona's (Jennifer Coolidge, Testosterone, American Wedding) diner. It used to belong to her father, but after his death, Fiona asserted her horrible taste and ideas, making tons of money and lazing away while everybody else works hard.

Sam spends her time talking to a friend over the Internet. He seems to be the only person who truly understands how she feels, and she even believes there may be a spark between them. What she doesn't realize is that this guy is the Austin (Chad Michael Murray, Freaky Friday, Megiddo), the cute, popular football player. Screenwriter Leigh Dunlap gives Austin some depth. He's tired of the superficiality of his girlfriend (Julie Gonzalo, Dodgeball, Freaky Friday) and their crowd, and believes that Sam may be the answer. They agree to meet at a costume ball, but Sam is so shy that she wears a mask.

She later runs off because of a curfew set by Fiona, leaving only her cell phone behind. Austin launches a search for the mystery girl, prompting everybody to claim to be her. Sam hesitates, because she is unsure of herself and unsure of who Austin really is. He did seem like a good guy, but she doesn't want to be hurt. Yeah, every element is here, but director Mark Rosman (The Invader, Evolver) seriously drops the ball. He tried to be cute and hip, but everything comes off as stale. A Cinderella Story also comes on the heels of Ella Enchanted, a similar story that knows it is lame and plays up the camp. By taking himself seriously, Rosman combines modern sensibilities with an old-fashioned story, resulting in people that do things that make no sense.

Duff's Sam is also in serious need of some personality. It takes more than sitting around and looking cute to make a film, and Duff has shown the inklings of personality in her other work. Still, surprisingly, this is a step down even for her. Part of the premise that Rosman uses is that Sam is such a nobody that nobody knows that she exists. So when Austin meets her at the ball, he doesn't recognize her, even though he goes to her diner. It's too bad that at the ball she looks like Hilary Duff wearing a mask. This only calls into question the intelligence of the Austin character. Coolidge is nearing the point of over-exposure, playing similar characters way too often. And the other players here, including Regina King (Legally Blonde 2, Daddy Day Care) and Dan Byrd (28 Days, The Grue Crew) are just plain obnoxious. People will give up caring long before A Cinderella Story ends. It just drags on forever, and feels much longer than it actually is.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 36 minutes, Rated PG for mild language and innuendo.

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