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Parents' Guide to

Cinderella (1997)

By Monique Jones, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 5+

Musical take on classic fairy tale is an inclusion landmark.

Movie G 1997 99 minutes
Cinderella (1997) Movie Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 6+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 5+

This title has:

Great role models
age 7+

I adored this version growing up and looked up to Brandy, but it's not as good as I remembered, pretty crude (just watched, coming from the wife of the user)

QUALITY: I had been watching the older Rogers and Hammerstein versions of this in anticipation of watching the one with Brandy again because I remembered it being better quality and cute. Other than more color than the mid-century versions it was awful for the 90s. It was still done on a play stage set with only slight improvements. The attempts at CGI were awful and cartoony. The movie went too fast to enjoy the music, which was all that this musical really has going for it in the first place. The grand entrance scene was a big let down. The prince is flinging girls around to crazy fast music, one's on the floor when whoever is in charge of the orchestra or lights spotlights her in a cheap looking way. Couldn't we have had a "wait" from the prince or an intervention from the godmother? The stepsisters flaws are over-the-top--they are unwatchable, and for some reason the queen squeaks? EDUCATIONAL VALUE: None, this isn't supposed to be realistic of any culture. Cinderella's home looks like a bit of a fairground fun house set in a vague Barvarian town with clothes ranging over many eras and the dances are silly, even for a musical. The unrealistic clothes and family setups are part of the charm but don't transport you anywhere if you were hoping for that. This also isn't that true to Perrault's version, so it's not even good for showcasing that. POSITIVE MESSAGES/ROLE MODELS OR LACK THEREOF: Like the new Disney Cinderella made 7 years ago, Cinderella doesn't realize she was abused until time reveals it--albeit with much less plot and well-written script. Realizing that and admitting she's a pushover is an important part (she sings about being mild, meek, and afraid). The fairy godmother tells Cinderella that the magic is simply a prop, that she could have walked right in her peasant clothes and he would have accepted her. Great, except the fairy godmother says she has to be home before midnight...I get that you'll see that in many Cinderella versions, and it's built into the music, but which is it? If the godmother was serious about being herself she wouldn't have made it seem so important. Also the prince was enthralled with Cinderella when he met her in the street, learned her name, and tried to find out where she lived, but apparently forgot her and her name later at the ball. He recognizes her in her peasant clothes, but not her name, and he has to learn it again just before they are off to their wedding, which is immediately afterwards--no break. It's lust at first sight, near-makeout at second, and marriage at third. Yes Cinderella is famous for it's quick turn-around but they don't suggest that this decision wasn't hastily made like in newer versions. There's too much emphasis on love at first sight and the choice presented is binary. We are told that men don't like clever women and to charm them into marriage as the stepmother believes OR there's love at first sight as Cinderella believes in. Cinderella and the prince never debunk the whole men don't love clever women thing which is disappointing. Instead it seems Cinderella just hangs onto the prince's every word and they use their feelings to make choices--no smart solutions to problems like are present in newer versions. The prince argues that the royals are selfish as well as not normal people but Cinderella gives them the benefit of the doubt--this seems to attract him to her, which is a good thing. A palace servant says he's tired of lying for the prince, which implies that the prince encourages dishonesty. It's great that Cinderella has good qualities, but there's no implication that the prince has any himself. Instead Cinderella is smitten with him purely for the fact that he can finish her sentences. The stepmother finds faults in Cinderella that aren't there. One thing I didn't like about this version is both Perrault and Grimm versions say that the father kept making excuses for Cinderella's stepmother, he didn't die, and that's the real reason she's still at home, she's a minor with no where to go and no one to back her up. On the other hand her departed mother was her inspiration and sent heavenly help, especially in the Grimm version. The 1997 movie only briefly mentions her mother--that she was "common". Instead we find that her father was rich and apparently lavish and "spoiled" her. So she only maintains a connection to her father. Could this be why she was wary of the prince as a commonly dressed stranger following her home but is ready for serious romance at the ball because of the obviously rich prince? I'm not against idea of her father being her inspiration, but it's still a let-down of a message when she goes out to communicate into the garden with her dad only because somehow we can't be bothered with her looking to her "common" mom who was the basis for her servant status (he's not exactly there or responding). VIOLENCE AND SCARINESS: The queen has a bit of unstable emotions. She grabs the ladder and shakes a palace servant to the ground. The stepmother forces a palace servant to dance with her. Later the prince, when running after Cinderella, steps on a servant's back. It's horrifying and if they were going for funny I wasn't laughing. Most of the other stuff like falling is slapstick comedy. The prince was right, the royals didn't care about others including the prince himself, and Cinderella never sees it. SEX, ROMANCE, & NUDITY: The stepmother has a slit in the back right up to her rear and you can almost see it as she walks. She also hides the key in her busom and the palace servant wipes it off--perhaps implying that she's well-endowed and sweaty. One of the stepsisters is pretty busty and nearly falling out as her mother tightens her corset strings. A stepsister cries out at the ball really loud (if I remember correctly) "Let me at him". She's first in line but her mother is out trying to seduce a servant to get her very same daughter next in line...(Doesn't make sense really)? When Cinderella does dance with the prince the king makes greedy grabby motions with his hands as he lusts after her and agressively says that if he were younger, but never finishes his sentence when the queen looks at him in alarm. Later the prince is very concerned and jealous that the king is dancing with Cinderella. Apparently there's something creepy we don't know about the dad!!!! There's way too much lusting at this ball. The prince caresses Cinderella several times and she closes her eyes and looks a little turned on. There's also some serious kissing (he still doesn't know her name but they threw in a tiny bit of small talk not including the singing before this so you'd think it was okay). The stepmother wants to try on the slipper but she is told she is too old. There's absolutely no requirements in appearance for young women, they don't have to look anywhere close to Brandy. Apparently the prince will take anyone just not age. Other versions try to close this loophole, so I don't see why this version is so popular, anything for a catchy tune? On the other hand I should applaud that they didn't imply, if you completely forget the song about how dainty she is by the jealous stepsisters, that her feature is small feet--both too small and too large feet are portrayed as trying on the slipper. LANGUAGE: idiot, imbecile--name calling basically, although once they do try and say there's no need for that language. CONSUMERISM: None unless you count relying on gaudy clothing to charm the prince. The family buys a lot of stuff and makes Cinderella carry it. SUBSTANCE USE: I honestly don't remember any, CSM caught a lot more than I did on that front.

This title has:

Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (6 ):

This take on the story of Cinderella retains the fairy tale magic of the classic while modernizing it by bringing in a multicultural cast. Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella aired in 60 million households in 1997, breaking a record for The Wonderful World of Disney and becoming an instant hit -- for good reason. The casting, which was practically unprecedented at that point in mainstream entertainment history, presented audiences with a Black Cinderella, an Asian Prince, and an entire cast of multicultural characters. Since then, the film has continued to inspire fans of all ages, as well as serve as the blueprint for the kind of multicultural casting that has gradually become more popular in Hollywood.

Beyond its groundbreaking legacy, the film also updates the timeless tale by giving Cinderella more agency and emotional depth. She's not simply waiting for someone to rescue her; instead, she uses her own courage -- and positive encouragement from her fairy godmother -- to stand up for herself. While she does get married to the prince in the end, the actual prize is Cinderella's ability to fight for herself and leave her toxic home, even as the prince is coming to find her. These subtle changes will help younger viewers know that they, too, have the power to use their voice and make the tough decisions they need to for their own well-being.

Movie Details

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