Cinderella and Robert hit it off, but when he invites her to the palace for the royal ball, she goes mainly to network with royals from other lands. The resolution of the film doesn’t come down to whether a glass slipper fits, but whether romance with a Prince fits in with Cinderella’s startup plans.
There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason behind which familiar songs are performed in the musical numbers. For every time a song makes sense for a character, such as Menzel’s stepmother lecturing her daughters with Madonna’s “Material Girl,” there’s a number that seems totally random, like the townspeople all singing Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation.” Because they have rhythm, I guess?
Cannon wrote the “Pitch Perfect” movies and the highly underrated teen comedy “Blockers,” and she’s able to cram some pretty funny lines in the margins, such as a running gag where the characters wonder why they use medieval phrases like “toothsome” and “Huzzah!” Casting Billy Porter of “Pose” as Cinderella’s Fabulous Godmother is a masterstroke (even though he’s only in one scene), and Brosnan, whose shaky singing voice was so memorable in “Mamma Mia,” doubles down here with an enjoyably hammy performance.
This “Cinderella” is constrained by its insistence on sticking to a generic you-go-girl message and applying it to every female character. Not only are the wicked stepmother and wicked stepsisters ultimately sympathetic, but nearly every woman on-screen, including barely seen figures like the Queen (Minnie Driver) and Princess (Tallulah Greive), is shown having to overcome some kind of oppression.