A Cinderella Story
Sam (Hilary Duff) is a high-school tomboy in southern California whose life as a loved child ends when her single dad (Whip Hubley) dies suddenly, leaving her with her wicked stepmother Fiona (Jennifer Coolidge) and ugly stepsisters (Madeline Zima and Andrea Avery). While scrubbing floors and working late nights at the family-owned diner, Sam dreams of meeting her internet pal, known only as Nomad (Chad Michael Murray). Rhonda (Regina King), the manager of the diner, loans Sam her unused wedding dress for the high-school masquerade ball so she can meet him, but he happens to be the football quarterback going steady with the head cheerleader. Chaos erupts as Fiona, the stepsisters and the cheerleading squad make sure Sam’s chances are dashed before they ever meet. Instead of a glass slipper, Sam drops her cell phone, leaving the only clue to her identity.
As in all fairy tales, good wins over evil in stark black and white. Sam is so good while Fiona and her daughters are so bad that it’s hard to connect with any of them. Sam makes straight As, works long hours at the diner, does all of the cooking and cleaning at home, and still looks beautiful. Fiona is a caricature of greed, envy and selfishness, and her daughters are awkward, stupid and silly. There are no sex or drugs in “A Cinderella Story,” but stereotyping “popular” teenagers as shallow, step-families as cruel and dishonest, and smart kids as misfits is unfair. Unfortunately, that seems to be the tired theme of many teenage movies. Girls 6–13 may get caught up in this unoriginal teen movie, but the animated Disney version is much better.