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Still shot from the movie: A Cinderella Story.

A Cinderella Story

Hillary Duff plays a modern-day Cinderella who meets her Prince Charming (Chad Michael Murray) anonymously over the Internet. But a wicked step family and some evil popular peers still make it anything but a ball to find out the identify of her secret suitor. Get the movie review and more. »

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Overall: B --
Violence: B
Sexual Content: B+
Language: B+
Drugs/Alcohol: A
Run Time: 95
Theater Release: 18 Jul 2004
Video Release: 18 Oct 2004
MPAA Rating: PG
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Few fairytales get as much coverage as Cinderella. Oh, the scenery may change and the costumes differ, but the characters rarely stray far from the original premise. A dearly departed parent, nasty stepfamily, and handsome prince are all staples in this storybook script.

A Cinderella Story is a modernized telling of the tale set in a drought-stricken San Fernando Valley. When Sam Montgomery's father (Whip Hubley) dies, she is left at the mercy of her malicious and cosmetically enhanced stepmother (Jennifer Coolidge) and her two socially inept stepsisters (Madeline Zima, Andrea Avery). Like any good telling of the tale, they are keen to pamper themselves while leaving all the work to Sam (Hillary Duff). They take over her father's diner and relegate Sam to the upper floor garret at home. Rather than polish castle floors, this chore girl is forced to wait tables and wipe counters at the family business.

But Sam has bigger dreams. She wants to attend Princeton. So between errands and odd jobs, she studies. She also spends a fair amount of time on-line with a secret admirer who is eager to meet her. But unlike the good-looking royalty of yore, this guy doesn't send out fancy invitations to a big ball. He just text messages a request to meet at the upcoming Homecoming/Halloween Dance.

However, revealing her identity at the costume ball proves to be difficult when Sam discovers the guy on the other end of the e-mail is the student body president and football quarterback, Austin Ames (Chad Michael Murray).

Already the recipient of cruel comments from the school's more popular teens, Sam realizes her rundown beater car and attic accommodations probably won't do much to impress the class's most sought after senior.

Luckily for her, the film is full of people who encourage this nascent princess. Her good friends Carter (Dan Byrd) and Rhonda (Regina King) from the restaurant stick by her as she finds her way.

While a happily ever after ending is as sure as the presence of a helpful fairy godmother, the script steers clear of most content families would find objectionable. A couple of remarks about female anatomy, a few profanities and instances of school bullying are about it. Unfortunately, the heartless members of Sam's stepfamily also have to get their comeuppance (though the revengeful moments at the end might be argued as understandable if at least not true to the storyline).

Hardworking, studious and for the most part obedient, Sam is one Cinderella whose fairytale life seems to be right on track when the frog she kisses turns out to be a real prince.

A Cinderella Story is rated PG: for mild language and innuendo

Cast: Hilary Duff, Jennifer Coolidge, Regina King
Studio: 2004 Warner Home Video

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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