A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Although many characters have questionable motivs (and the corresponding behavior), those who are self serving gt their comeuppance in the end, and ultimately, love and kindness reign.
Positive Role Models
Though a few characters (namely, the stepmother and one of the two stepsisters) are heartless and cruel, the rest are kind hearted, especially Danielle, the main character. She speaks up for the disenfranchised and grows even bolder and more courageous as the movie unspools. She is, in fact, a rare fairy-tale lead who can stand up for herself. Some characters lie, though only one does so out of spite. Some characters covet pricey things and are willing to trade servants for them.
Violence & Scariness
Some swordsmanship (not gory), with one woman slashing the face of another, and a band of criminals attacking another. Characters punch each other in the face. A woman's back is shown with whip marks. A stepmother bullies and belittles her daughters.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Tender kisses between two young lovers. One man describes himself as "well-endowed."
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"S--t" appears in the form of "horses--t." Also "hell," "damn," and "oh God" (used as an exclamation). There are some muttered "f--k"s in the PG-13-rated version, but they're very hard to hear.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink out of cups, but it's not clear what's inside.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ever After is a version of the Cinderella story that's darker than Disney's. It doesn't shy away from the nastiness that pervades the relationship between the stepmother and Cinderella (here known as Danielle). But it's also far more inspiring and empowering. Though Danielle is in dire straits, she isn't in desperate need of rescuing and is actually the one who stands up for others' rights. Younger kids may be disturbed by some characters' excessive, non-cartoonish meanness, but much of that is mitigated by the great storytelling and sweet romance, which tweens and older will enjoy. Expect some fistfights and swordplay, a sad on-screen death, plus some language ("horses--t" and some muttered, hard-to-hear "f--k"s, which were edited out of the PG-rated version that was released on VHS but remain in the PG-13 version that was released theatrically and on DVD). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
It's hard to imagine how to improve upon the classic that is Cinderella, but this delightful romantic drama does just that. With sincerity and girl-power can do, Ever After transforms the traditional story into a textured revision that isn't neatly tied up with a bow. It is, in fact, a heartbreaking story that's gently and beautifully told. After all, what isn't heartbreaking about a young woman who works so hard to obtain her cold-hearted stepmother's love, only to realize that she'll never get it?
Huston makes for a wickedly potent stepmother, but one who isn't caricatured to excess. In one scene, a flicker of appreciation passes through her face as she looks at Danielle, only to disappear quickly, and you understand that she's not so much monstrous as she is broken -- meant to be pitied rather than scorned. But she still gets her come-uppance in the end. Barrymore's accent jars, but her signature fiery sweetness works here. We don't quite forget she's an actress playing a role, but we enjoy her nevertheless. Director Andy Tennant moves the story along at a pleasant pace, goosing it with refreshing surprises such as Leonardo da Vinci playing matchmaker. We've never seen Cinderella like this, and, oh, what a happily ever after!
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.