Cinderella (2021)

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Cinderella (2021) Movie Poster Image
Musical fairy tale about following dreams has risqué jokes.
  • PG
  • 2021
  • 113 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 20 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 23 reviews

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.

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Viewers will learn that fairy tales can be retold with new, different elements and endings.

Positive Messages

Messages about staying true to yourself, not judging others based on social status or birthright, prioritizing mutual respect and encouragement in romantic relationships. Other themes include growing up, following your passion, taking chances, the importance of kindness, believing in your skills. Positive messages about women and girls, how they're capable of much more than finding a prince to rescue them. Characters demonstrate perseverance, empathy.

Positive Role Models

Ella is determined, disciplined, hardworking. The prince evolves and doesn't care about the social status of his potential beloved; he values her independence, confidence, talents, while also acknowledging what he wants from the future. Stepmother is vile to Ella but eventually exhibits some personal growth, apologizes for her cruelty. The queen is a loving mother who stands up to and challenges the king in public, making it known that she doesn't have to agree with everything he says. The king, like his son, exhibits personal growth. Princess Gwen is a progressive leader in waiting, full of plans to improve her kingdom.

Diverse Representations

Fabulous Godmother is played by Black LGBTQ+ actor Billy Porter. Actress Camila Cabello is Latina, but Ella is not. The rest of the main characters are White; supporting characters are more diverse. Strong, independent female protagonist refuses to be a damsel in distress. A negative representation: Thomas uses a cane not because he has a mobility disability but because "chicks dig it."

Violence & Scariness

Stepmother is very cruel to Ella, speaking unkindly, purposely ruining her dress, forcing her to accept a betrothal she doesn't want. A character jumps out of a moving carriage. Disagreements.

Sexy Stuff

Ella and prince dance, flirt, embrace, caress, eventually kiss. A few suggestive jokes and comments, like "chicks dig it," "blossoming daughters," "that mental image will nourish me through the day." A woman declares that the prince doesn't have much to work with upstairs and likely other places as well. A potential wife tells the prince that they won't have to do much together except for the "disgusting practice of making a son."


"Holy hell," "what fresh hell," "jerk," "disgusting," "idiot," "commoner," and "mama's boy" (said in derision). 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

People drink and eat at a ball (it's unclear whether the drinks are alcoholic).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cinderella is a musical romcom retelling of the classic fairy tale, starring Camila Cabello as main character Ella. From writer-director Kay Cannon, this version has more of a girl empowerment spin than other takes on the story (it is decidedly not about a damsel in distress), as well as themes of perseverance and empathy. The romance is limited to flirting, dancing, and a climactic kiss, but there are a few suggestive jokes that tweens are likely to pick up on, like when a woman says that the prince doesn't have a lot to work with upstairs and likely "anywhere else," or when a creepy neighbor thanks Ella's stepmother for the mental image that her "blossoming daughters" have given him for the day. While several unkind things are said (language includes "hell," "jerk," "idiot," and "mama's boy"), there's no violence. Supporting characters include people of all shapes, colors, and sizes, but the main cast isn't notably diverse, and there's one comment about a man who uses a cane not because he needs it but because "chicks dig it." The musical numbers are mostly pop covers, and the all-star cast includes Billy Porter (as the Fabulous Godmother), Pierce Brosnan, Idina MenzelMinnie DriverNicholas GalitzineMaddie Baillio, James Corden, and more.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySldio September 3, 2021

Hard to even call it Cinderella

This was a huge waste of time. Definitely not a traditional Cinderella story. If you enjoy overly woke themes or heavy handed feminist clap trap or the most ste... Continue reading
Adult Written byTruegrit July 25, 2021

Falls short

This is a feminist movie. I was disappointed. Why make prince charming five up everything, when she could have made it better for women in the village.
Teen, 13 years old Written byTiny.dancer5652 September 8, 2021

Just No...

This movie started out great. The trailer was amazing and the moment it came out I wanted to watch it. I am 13 and my brother, who watched it with me, is 7.
N... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byAatrovato September 3, 2021

Please Read. I had many thoughts on this movie.

I really enjoyed this movie. The motivational, hard working, girl power that is shown is just amazing. Camilla Cabello did an absolute job portraying Ella in th... Continue reading

What's the story?

In this musical version of CINDERELLA, Camila Cabello plays the titular orphaned main character. Her widowed stepmother (Idina Menzel) is cruel, keeping Ella in the basement doing the family's chores and sewing with her three mice friends. But her two stepsisters, Anastasia (Maddie Baillio) and Drizella (Charlotte Spencer), are more clueless than mean. Meanwhile, Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) turns down a profitable proposal to marry the princess of a nearby kingdom, upsetting his father, King Rowan (Pierce Brosnan), who demands that his son find a potential wife or forfeit his inheritance to his younger sister, Princess Gwen (Tallulah Greive). After spotting Ella at the announcement of the "find the prince a wife" ball, Robert decides to disguise himself and meet her as a commoner. He encourages Ella, who dreams of designing and selling her own gowns, to attend the ball as a way to showcase her creations. Eventually Ella is helped by her Fabulous Godmother (Billy Porter), who helps transform her to get to the ball, where she and Prince Robert share an unforgettable evening together -- until midnight, of course.

Is it any good?

There's a lot to enjoy about writer-director Kay Cannon's musical adaptation of Cinderella, which is ultimately a lighthearted tribute to pop songs and love stories. It's Pitch Perfect mixed with Moulin Rouge, by way of a classic fairy tale. The song selection is particularly fun, including a mashup of Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation" with Des'ree's "You Gotta Be"; the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" and Salt-N-Pepa's "Whatta Man"; plus Madonna ("Material Girl"), Jennifer Lopez ("Let's Get Loud"), Queen ("Somebody to Love"), and a couple of original tracks sung by Cabello and Menzel. Cannon mixes large ensemble numbers (the mashups) with smaller, more intimate numbers. There's also a positive representation of Cinderella as a confident, independent, talented young woman who doesn't need Prince Robert to save her: She has big goals and the skills she needs to make her dreams a reality. This isn't a knight-in-shining-armor romance; in fact, at some point, viewers might wonder if the romance will actually end in romantic "happily ever after" at all.

If the musical numbers are the movie's strong point (although not all of the singers have Cabello/Menzel-level voices), the writing comes up short, including a few too many unnecessary risqué jokes and double entendres. While plenty of kid-aimed movies have jokes and comments aimed at older audiences, the ones here include a borderline predatory neighbor coming by to ogle Ella and her sisters and say things like he's happy to see the "blossoming young daughters" who've provided him "with a mental picture to nourish him throughout the day." Ew. Still, it's (mostly) forgivable, because there's enough humor (Brosnan and Driver are great as bickering royals) and positive messages to outweigh the missteps. Cabello holds her own as an actor, and her chemistry with Galitzine is sweet enough for the movie's target tween audience. And it's always a win to see scene-stealing Porter in a dazzling outfit (kudos to costume designer Ellen Mirojnick for the expressive gowns, especially Fab G.'s). While this Cinderella is unlikely to become the default version of the story, it's good enough to merit a family viewing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fact that many traditional fairy tales are criticized for having female characters who have to be rescued by a prince/man. How does this take on Cinderella change that expectation? Does it still "feel" like Cinderella despite the changes?

  • What does it mean to be a brave and kind person? How do the characters in the movie demonstrate empathy and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

  • Why do you think there are so many adaptations of Cinderella? Which ones are your favorite, and why? What do they have in common?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fairy tales

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