Cinderella (2015)

Movie review by
Yvonne Condes, Common Sense Media
Cinderella (2015) Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Easy-on-the-eyes fairy tale promotes kindness.
  • PG
  • 2015
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 55 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 55 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

The movie is intended to entertain, rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Kindness, bravery, love, empathy, gratitude, and respect are consistent themes. But although Cinderella's intelligence and compassion are clearly valued, she does still end up getting rescued by a prince who's transfixed after meeting her once. And Cinderella's exceedingly tiny waist could raise body image issues.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cinderella is smart, well-read, and taught to be kind and courageous. She looks for the good in everyone, treating all with respect. Her father is also kind, but both of them are pushed around by the evil stepmother. Cinderella doesn't do much to get herself out of a bad situation; instead, she's rewarded for her goodness in the form of magic help from her fairy godmother. Some reasons are given why stepmother Lady Tremaine is so unpleasant, somewhat mitigating her behavior. The stepsisters are rude and dim.

Violence & Scariness

Prominent scenes of parental death. Cinderella is orphaned by her saint-like parents, the stepmother is widowed twice, and the king dies in his son's arms. There's no real scariness except for the stepmother being cold and cruel to Cinderella. There's a chase scene after Cinderella runs away at midnight; later she's locked in the attic. There's a brief plot to get rid of Cinderella. Young kids might be alarmed by the pumpkin turning into and out of a coach.

Sexy Stuff

Cinderella's parents kiss. Cinderella gasps when the prince touches her waist as they dance at the ball.


Lady Tremaine calls her daughters "stupid" and tells them to shut up.


No product placement within the movie, but Cinderella has been a Disney brand for years, and this movie will help sell lots more tie-in products, from toys to DVDs.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking at a party.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this non-musical take on Cinderella is true to the classic Disney animated tale, if somewhat more intense given that it's live action instead of a cartoon. As a child, Cinderella (Downton Abbey's Lily James) loses her mother; her father dies when she's older. Both are drawn-out scenes filled with tears and intense sadness, which could upset younger kids. The prince's father also dies, and Cinderella is a beautiful, kind, and dutiful young woman (albeit one with an unreailstically tiny, corset-cinched waist) who's left to suffer at the hands of her evil stepmother (the divine Cate Blanchett). Everything about the film is visually stunning -- from the sets to the costumes to the actors -- and being a courageous, kind person is a constant theme. But the prince is transfixed by Cinderella after meeting her just once, and she has no future until he comes and rescues her. The stepmother's cruelty and neglect toward Cinderella could scare some kids. There's a little mild language ("stupid," "shut up") and some background drinking at a party.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7 and 9-year-old Written byJulie St-F March 15, 2015

Retrograde Retelling

Parents, be warned. Three parents die in this movie. Cinderella's mother's death is particularly dramatic. She falls ill, before an intense death bed... Continue reading
Adult Written byHeyItsAli January 10, 2016

Great Movie

Okay, I'm going to start off by giving a response to some of the other reviews I've seen. I saw one review that said Ella was sexualized and I quote... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byHowling March 15, 2015

Enchanting, Old Fashioned Fairy Tail

I went to the first showing of it on the 13th, and was pleasantly surprised. It's an all around fun, glamorous adaption of Cinderella that shines. Lily Jam... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byLaura Petrie November 14, 2019

Too Touchy

Now I saw some complaints about waist size, and blond hair. For one, although many people today are not "tiny" to say the least, there is also and inc... Continue reading

What's the story?

In CINDERELLA, Ella (Eloise Webb) is a happy child with loving parents; but then her mother gets sick and dies. Before she passes, Ella's mother urges her to be kind and courageous -- and she does indeed grow up to be a beautiful and sweet young woman (Lily James). After Ella's father marries Lady Tremaine (played to perfection by Cate Blanchett), he dies, the staff is let go, and Ella becomes maid to her stepmother and stepsisters, who dub her Cinderella. One day she meets a handsome prince (Richard Madden) in the woods; he decides to give a ball for all the ladies in the kingdom in the hopes of meeting her again. Ella plans to go, but right before the ball, her stepmother and stepsisters rip her dress and go without her. Her spirit is almost broken when her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) appears and turns Cinderella's mice friends into horses, some lizards into footmen, and a pumpkin into a carriage. She also gives Ella a fabulous ball gown and a pair of glass slippers. Ella's a hit at the ball, but she has to flee before the stroke of midnight (when the magic ends), leaving an intrigued prince -- and one of her glass slippers -- behind.

Is it any good?

While the music of the animated original is missed, almost everything about this film is well done. The direction (by Kenneth Branagh), the sets, and the casting are all spot on, and the visuals are unequivocally gorgeous. As the evil stepmother, Blanchett is fabulous in every scene she's in, even when she says nothing at all. And James is lovely as Cinderella, but her character hasn't really made any progress from the one in Disney's 1950 animated classic: She's all goodness and light, oozing kindness. She does as she's told, works hard, and is rewarded in the end when she's rescued by a rich, handsome prince.

It's quite the contrast between her and another recent version of Cinderella: Anna Kendrick's far more complex character in Into the Woods. You almost hope that Ella will realize that it's not a good idea to marry someone after meeting him just twice. But Cinderella does marry the prince, and (no surprise) we're told they'll live happily ever after in a world that isn't as it is, but as it should be. But shouldn't Cinderella have some hand in her own fate? For this version to be released on the heels of other notable fairy tale retellings that built out the back stories of some princesses and villains (Frozen, Maleficent, and Into the Woods) seems like a missed opportunity to have young fans embrace Cinderella beyond being the belle of the ball.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how it's possible for Cinderella to see the positive in her situation when she's treated so badly. Do you think you'd be able to do the same in similar circumstances? How does this version of Cinderella compare to the one from the animated movie? Is it equally believable for a real person to always be so happy and good hearted?

  • Many traditional fairy tales are criticized for having female characters who have to be rescued by a prince/man. Do you think Cinderella could have done anything on her own to better her situation and find happiness? What would have made her a more proactive character? Is it OK for girls to enjoy stories about traditional princesses? How can their tales turn into teaching moments?

  • Cinderella's mother and father die, but she thinks about them often. Kids: Have you lost anyone close to you? How do you keep their memory alive? If you haven't lost anyone, is it something you're afraid of? (Parents, reassure your kids about any worries they might have on this topic.)

  • Much has been made of star Lily James' tiny, corset-cinched waist. Do you think it sets unrealistic standards for girls'/women's body image? Why is it important for Cinderella to be so slender?

  • What does it mean to be a courageous and kind person? Can you think of anyone in your life who's one -- or both? How do the characters in Cinderella demonstrate empathy, gratitude, and compassion? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fairy tales

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