While it calls itself a variation of “Cinderella”, it’s really just yet another of the million versions of “Pretty in Pink”, because If I don’t recall Cinderella wasn’t as dumb as a brick, and Prince Charming wasn’t old enough to be her uncle. But when you get down to it and cut through all the bullshit, this is another of Duff’s tepid vehicles with the score comprised totally of her “music”, along with a main character that deifies her as someone she isn’t. I don’t understand what her appeal is except to assume that she’s getting roles for being blonde, white, and pretty.
Duff plays Sam, a girl whose father dies in a bad earthquake and she’s left with her evil stepfamily who forces her to work at her father’s diner and skip school, but when she starts keeping in touch with the school hunk online, incognito. Most of their scenes consists of them talking online, because no romance is complete without the “You’ve Got Mail” rip-off, so we’re subjected to boring scenes of the two chatting online, cue internet product placement, and PM’ing on a cell phone, cue cell phone product placement, because this movie is, like, so totally modern. Dan Byrd as Carter, Sam’s best friend is way over the top and never funny, especially when he shows up throughout the movie in different costumes, being an aspiring actor and all, Jennifer Coolidge does her usual crude attempt at bitchy but she really just comes off as annoying, and every one of their characters’ chemistry and attempted character emphasis is so forced and stifled.
There’s even this really badly drawn out sub-plot with Austin who wants to go to Princeton, but his father is forcing upon him to become a football star and then take over the car dealership. It would be good drama had it had any relevance to the actual movie. Sam’s focus is boring simply because there is none except for the concept explained at the beginning. She has no personality, no depth, no real emphasis, and she’s a boring person, it’s hard to believe any one would like her. Then there are the villains, ah, the villains, as if the step sisters weren’t enough as villains, they add the popular cheerleader princesses, the leader who is blonde, of course, hates Sam, of course, and is a royal freaking bitch, of course. But the worst parts of the movie consist of the focus on Murray’s and Duff’s characters which are mostly vapid sequences.
Not even the presence of Coolidge could help improve it. And the dialogue doesn’t even work when it’s trying to work as comedy. Worst of all, the defining aspect with the ball and Sam dressing in a gown ends up being ridiculous as she’s this blonde ditzy girl, who gets made up, and puts a small white mask on her face, and suddenly she’s unrecognizable. I don’t get it, she wears a stupid small mask and no one can recognize her? Not even her stepsisters whom she grew up with? I doubt there are not many air headed blondes running around. Regardless, when it should end, it doesn’t, and it just drones on and on without anything worth watching, and Duff has yet another brainless movie to add to her repertoire.