Cinderella (Brandy) chafes under the cruelty of her wicked stepmother (Bernadette Peters) and her evil stepsisters, Calliope (Veanne Cox) and Minerva (Natalie Desselle), until her Fairy Godmother (Whitney Houston) steps in to change her life for one unforgettable night. At the ball, she falls for handsome Prince Christopher (Paolo Montalban), whose parents, King Maximillian (Victor Garber) and Queen Constantina (Whoopi Goldberg), are anxious for him to find a suitable paramour.
I saw this version as I have always liked Bernadette Peters and Whitney Houston. And although it is not perfect and I do much prefer the 1965 and 1957 versions, I enjoyed this movie. For a TV movie it is well made and completely delightful to watch. The effects are above average, the costumes and sets are gorgeous and the ballroom sequence with its enchanting photography was the highlight of the film. The story is timeless, the choreography is dazzling and danced with gusto and while slightly corny at times the dialogue amuses. Rodgers and Hammerstein's songs are outstanding, with too many highlights to list. I wasn't so taken with the more contemporary numbers though, the style jarred with those of R&H's and other than to suit the voices of some of those involved I personally didn't see much point in adding them. Overall, the cast are just great, the multicultural issue didn't bother me at all. I wasn't a fan of Brandy as Cinderella, she's not terrible by all means, she's beautiful, charming and whimsical and interacts well with everyone, but there are times where she's made to look passive and this felt forced to me. Also I never quite warmed to her voice, the tuning and style are fine. It was more the tone, I've never liked singers who sound as though they are singing through their nose. However, the rest of the cast fare much better, Whitney Houston is a slightly overplayed but vocally outstanding Fairy Godmother, Bernadette Peters is a wonderfully wicked and somewhat tragic step-mother, Jason Alexander is hilarious as Lionel and as the prince Paolo Montalban is dashing. The stepsisters are suitably odious and Whoopi Goldberg seems to be enjoying herself as the Queen. Overall, credible version but not the best, that belongs to the 1957 version with Julie Andrews. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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