A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A girl chats with a stranger online, shares personal information, and plans to meet this person. A good attitude, independence, and hard work bring great rewards; a strong character can survive unkindness, selfishness, and ignorance. The film repeatedly presents one message: "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game." Support and friendship can be found in unexpected places.
Positive Role Models
A girl chats with a stranger online, shares personal information, and plans to meet this person. Sam has a wonderful relationship with her loving father. After his death, custody is granted to his widow Fiona, a typical "evil stepmother." Fiona's despicable behavior is magnified to the point of ridiculousness -- and is mostly very funny. But Sam must find mothering elsewhere; she gets approval, love, and support from an African American restaurant manager and the waitresses on her staff. There are many teen stereotypes: mean girls, horny boys, and nerds who are teased mercilessly.
Violence & Scariness
An earthquake kills Sam's dad in an early scene. The death happens off-camera and except for some brief shaking in the little girl's bedroom, no major damage is seen. There is some cartoon action, mostly clumsy falls, slapstick fighting, and a car careens through city streets.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some comic sexual innuendo (much of which will go over the heads of the youngest kids). Breasts are an obsession of the teen boys, and a source of pride for the buxom Fiona. Some girls wear skimpy clothing, a few boys are seen only in towels, and Fiona whips quickly out of a tanning booth and into a towel (nudity is suggested rather than seen).
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Fiona frequently uses insults and slurs to punish and demean her stepdaughter. Also heard: "fart," "butt," "breasts," "damn," "hell."
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Products & Purchases
Coca Cola. In dialogue: Mercedes and Jaguar.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this story is set in motion when an earthquake kills the young heroine's father. The filmmakers keep it short, simple, and, off-camera except for some shaking in the little girl's bedroom. Though exaggerated, outlandish, and meant to be funny, Sam's evil stepmother and stepsisters are mean and insulting to her -- some very young or sensitive kids could be disturbed by their behavior. Cartoonish action includes lots of clumsy falls, a careening car, and some stepsister brawls. There's a bit of mild profanity ("hell," "damn," "fart," "butt"), some sexual innuendo, along with some low-cut stepmother and stepsister outfits, and a few big-breast and breast-implant jokes. A girl chats with a stranger online, shares personal information, and plans to meet this person; parents may want to remind kids why this is dangerous behavior. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Girls will love this fresh, funny, and sweet, update of the Cinderella story, and it might win some fans among their older siblings and parents, as well. Duff has a winning personality and makes a lovely Cinderella, sensitive, smart, honorable, and devoted. She knows what she wants and is willing to sacrifice her present happiness to get it.
The always-welcome Regina King is a pleasure as the godmother-equivalent who provides more than a dress, and Jennifer Coolidge (Best in Show) makes the most of a one-note character as the evil stepmother, especially when explaining that her serene expression is the result of Botox. Austin's efforts to find his Cinderella and Sam's struggles with Fiona go on longer than they should, but there is an old-fashioned happily-ever-after ending for everyone who deserves one, especially the girls in the audience.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.