A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Some good life lessons: Life is often what you make out of it; positivity can be found in even the worst of circumstances.
Both positive and negative messages in this classic fairy tale. On the positive side: Though it may be difficult to find the good in terrible situations, a positive attitude will provide great strength. Happiness is a choice. You can achieve much more with teamwork than by acting alone. On the downside: The simplistic portrayal of romantic love could mislead young kids about how real love and relationships work. Also, the movie supports the idea that, for women, being passive and depending on men is normal and positive.
Positive Role Models
Though passive, Cinderella is a kind, generous, and forgiving person who demonstrates compassion, empathy, and gratitude. She loves animals and takes care of her undeserving extended family. She keeps faith that her unfortunate situation will get better. On the other hand, her stepmother and sisters are greedy and selfish, displaying great hatred due to jealousy.
The main characters are mostly women, including Cinderella and her stepfamily. But the cast is all White, and traditional gender norms are strongly enforced -- a song lyric says to "leave the sewing to the women," women wait to be rescued by a prince, and there's a major focus on external beauty and pretty dresses as a signal of a person's worth. Fat stereotypes, with chubby Gus greedily trying to stack a tower of food that makes him too slow, getting him nearly captured/eaten by a cat -- thin mouse Jaq has to save him.
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Violence & Scariness
Opening narration mentions the death of Cinderella's father. Tense scenes include a sharply clawed cat named Lucifer chasing Gus and other mice friends, Cinderella escaping from the ball pursued by shadowy steeds, and Cinderella's stepfamily cruelly tearing apart her ball gown. Characters bop each other on the head with a flute, the king chases the Grand Duke with a sword, and a cat falls from great heights (no one is visibly hurt). Scenes of bullying, with Cinderella's stepfamily mocking and yelling at her, ordering her around, and, at one point, locking her in her own bedroom.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
In a brief scene, Cinderella undresses behind a screen, and the backs of her naked shoulders are visible. She shares a chaste kiss with her prince. Plenty of focus on romance and marriage.
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Characters call each other "stupid" and "pompous windbag."
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Products & Purchases
Cinderella is a Disney princess whose brand reaches far and wide. Expect to see princess branding on consumer merchandise, food products, etc., as well as in books, websites, and other media.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The king lights a cigar and piles unlit cigars onto the Grand Duke in a celebratory moment. The Grand Duke briefly smokes a cigar.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Cinderella is an animated Disney classic based on the 1697 fairy tale by Charles Perrault. Little kids might be upset by how Cinderella (voiced by Ilene Woods) is treated by her stepsisters and stepmom, who cruelly mock her, yell at her, order her around, tear her clothes apart, and lock her into her bedroom. Other tense scenes include potentially scary cat-and-mouse chases and an escape from a royal ball pursued by shadowy steeds. Positive messages include the fact that positivity can be found in even the worst of circumstances, the importance of treating others with kindness, and the value of teamwork. But Cinderella is also the quintessential passive heroine rescued by a male character (in this case, the prince), so discussions about her meekness might be in order. Many kids will be familiar with Cinderella and her Disney princess colleagues even before watching any of the movies due to the princesses' ubiquitous appearance on merchandise of every kind. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Disney expanded this simple story with vivid and endearing characters, memorable songs, and gorgeously detailed and inventive animation. In one musical number, as the stepsisters squawk their way through their singing lesson in another room, Cinderella sings sweetly as she scrubs the floor, reflected in dozens of soap bubbles. In another delightful number, the fairy godmother sings "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo" as she transforms a pumpkin into a coach, the mice into horses, the horse into a coachman, and, finally, Cinderella's rags into a magnificent ballgown. The scene when the Duke (Luis van Rooten) comes looking for the girl whose foot will fit the glass slipper is suspenseful and highly satisfying. But overall, the film's passive heroine, who waits for Prince Charming to save her from an abusive family, may feel less than charming to viewers who want their Disney princess to lead by example.
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.