A Cinderella Story (2004)
Main cast: Hilary Duff (Samantha Montgomery), Jennifer Coolidge (Fiona), Chad Michael Murray (Austin Ames), Dan Byrd (Carter), Regina King (Rhonda), Julie Gonzalo (Shelby), and Lin Shaye (Mrs Wells)
Director: Mark Rosman
This movie is vile. There is some heinous unspeakable evil emanating from Hilary Duff's absolute and total incapability to emote in any other manner other than to pucker her lips in what is supposed to be an adorable gesture and look plaintively at the camera as if she's a puppy about to be drowned by her master. While teenaged girls (and boys, if they go for that kind of thing) may enjoy themselves throughout the movie by imagining that they're the one finally getting to lose their virginity at the end of Halloween dance to a guy who looks just like Chad Michael Murray, anyone else will have to gather strength to endure slightly more than one hour and thirty minutes of Hilary Duff mewling out her lines like a drunk cat while puckering her lips or batting her eyelashes at the camera. Because that young woman just cannot act.
Samantha's story follows the straightfoward Cinderella tale with Jennifer Coolidge stealing the show as the evil stepmother. This time around, Sam and Austin Ames, the star football hero of the school, already like each other thanks to their frequent online IM'ing of each other. Of course, they don't really know who they are IM'ing. Can Sam finds love through a convoluted maze of missing cell phones and emails?
While the movie attempts in its late half-hour to insert some contemporary ideals of female independence and the value of self-respect, for a long time Sam is content to play the victim and look cute in the process that I find myself longing for the plucky and feitsy Danielle of Ever After to come over and kick Sam's butt. I like how the Prince Charming in this movie isn't a perfect hunk and I like how Sam at the end sets him straight about his BS throughout the movie. If Sam has been like this throughout the movie, A Cinderella Story could have been salvaged.
But for a long, long time, this movie is all about showcasing Ms Duff's pouting ability and it's irritating to see her insincere "I'm so cute and so sad, awww" expressions comprise about nine-tenth of her entire acting repertoire. Sam's inability to stand up for herself grates because all she does in this story is to pout sadly while everyone rallies around her and tries to get her to do something, anything. Most damning is how the movie is just not funny for a romantic comedy. A Cinderella Story is a complete bore of a movie with a minimally-talented actress at the helm and frankly, it can go eat its own shoe.
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