Cinderella ★★★

Cinderella is pure panto but with enough light hearted charm to avoid being an ugly stepsister of a movie.

The plot follows the original fairy tale with minor changes. Cinderella is a mistreated stepchild with a plan to establish her own line of dress shops in an ambiguously medieval kingdom. She has a chance meeting with the dim-witted Prince Robert, and is then visited by Billy Porter’s Fabulous Godmother who gives her an opportunity to go to the palace ball through magic.

There are many fourth wall breaks and meta jokes as the cast work their way through comic set pieces and pop music. I must warn viewers of a sensitive disposition that Pierce Brosnan does sing, although it’s mercifully short.

The treacly tunes which were created for the movie are noticeably worse than the jukebox music, although Dream Girl is a good villain song and benefits a lot from Idina Menzel’s performance. Material Girl is undoubtedly the musical highlight, and Menzel’s surprisingly complex wicked Stepmother provides some depth to a film which is mostly as shallow as a puddle.

The jokes are at a 10-year-old level which honestly makes them more fun; I laughed out loud at the one about mice being girls and rats being boys. Camila Cabello is a decent Cinderella although she feels undeserved by the music she’s given, since she has most of the aforementioned original songs. Nicholas Galitzine gives arguably the funniest performance as the nice but dim Prince Robert.

One of the biggest giveaways that the movie is panto is Porter’s performance as the Fabulous Godmother, as male-to-female crossdressing is a traditional feature of these productions. Porter also gets arguably the second best song with a cover of Earth Wind and Fire’s Shining Star. Another sign is James Corben’s broad performance as one of the mice, although he is a more polarizing figure after his social media antics to promote the film.

The only real drama comes from the movie's half-hearted attempts at feminism; subplots about Ella choosing between her career as a dressmaker and her Prince and Princess Gwen being the real brains behind the throne. While an admirable effort these feel tacked on with regards to the actual plot and are hardly ground-breaking.

Cinderella is difficult to dislike despite being as insubstantial as a glass slipper. It will undoubtedly be enjoyed by any children you happen to have around the place, as well as anyone in the general target audience for Mamma Mia.