Sneakerella Parent Guide
The Cinderella story is too well known for there to be any suspense, but this gender-flipped adaptation delivers positive moral messages along with an exuberant soundtrack.
Parent Movie Review
For El (Chosen Jacobs), life is dominated by dreams – his own dream of being a sneaker designer and his late mother’s aspirations for her shoe store. Now managed by his heartless stepfather (Bryan Terrell Clark), and sabotaged by two cartoonishly awful stepbrothers (Kolton Stewart and Hayward Leach), the store has become El’s cage. He can’t leave because his memories of his mother are tied to the shop, which makes him vulnerable to exploitation by his stepfamily. Being stuck at the store can’t kill El’s talent; he just needs to find a way to be seen for who he really is…
A subway ride away is another dreamer: Kira (Lexi Underwood), the youngest daughter of sneaker magnate Darius King (John Salley). She’s convinced that the family shoe company needs to stop relying on market research and hire a designer with street cred. When she realizes that the charming guy with whom she spent an afternoon in Queens has a flair for sneaker design, she’s certain she’s found who she’s looking for. There’s just one problem…she has no idea how to contact him.
Sneakerella takes the Cinderella story, flips the gender of the main characters, and creates a hip hop musical. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t – most egregiously in the ludicrous resolution to the story conflict. The movie is anchored by El, and fortunately he is an appealing character who invites viewers to care about him. His journey gives youngsters strong messages about the value of creativity, hard work, persistence, forgiveness, and self-confidence. Best of all, this movie delivers strong warnings about the consequences of dishonesty. When El lies and allows untruths to stand uncorrected, the consequences are severe and do not magically disappear. This is definitely a message parents will want their kids to absorb.
Parents who appreciate diversity will notice that the cast doesn’t only have Black protagonists. El’s lesbian best friend (Devyn Nekoda) is Asian and the musical numbers feature multiracial dancers. Remarkably, one dance number features a disabled man on crutches. If your family is looking for representation in film, you will certainly find it here. Best of all, you won’t see much in the way of negative content. Violence is minimal, composed mostly of bullying from El’s stepbrothers. There are brief scenes of social drinking and a few terms of deity. Sexual content is limited to a quick kiss between a guy and girl and mention of a same sex relationship.
Another largely positive aspect of the film is its musical score. The hip hop tracks are relentlessly cheerful, and the dance numbers are bright and exuberant. The music underscores the film’s irrepressible optimism and reinforces its moral themes. The score also features a throwback from Disney’s original Cinderella film, “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes”. The tonal shift isn’t the best fit with the rest of the soundtrack, but there’s no denying the song’s message fits perfectly with the story. After all, “Have faith in your dreams and someday your rainbow will come smiling through” is a great message for El and anyone else who’s trying to follow their heart and reach for the sky.Directed by Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum. Starring Tara Nicodemo, Lexi Underwood, Kolton Stewart. Running time: 112 minutes. Theatrical release May 13, 2022. Updated May 10, 2022
Watch the trailer for Sneakerella
Rating & Content Info
Why is Sneakerella rated TV-G? Sneakerella is rated TV-G by the MPAA
Violence: A teen is bullied by two other boys who manhandle him and lock him up. Two guys trash a room to get someone else in trouble.
Sexual Content: A teenage girl mentions having a girlfriend and kissing girls. A teenage guy and girl kiss.
Profanity: There are four terms of deity in the script.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults drink alcohol in a social setting.
Page last updated May 10, 2022
Sneakerella Parents' Guide
Why does El let Kira and her family believe he’s an experienced designer? Does he lie deliberately or not? Do you think his intent makes a difference to what he does? How do you think he could have behaved differently in his conversations with Kira? What are the consequences of El’s dishonesty? Do you think he deserves what happens to him? How does he resolve the situation? What do you think you would have done in El’s situation?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
The Irish Cinderlad, written by Shirley Climo and illustrated by Loretta Krupinski, also gender flips the familiar story. This Cinderella figure has nasty step-relatives and gets tangled up with dragons, a giant, and a princess.
With her usual wit, Babette Cole alters the traditional story in Prince Cinders, adding in lots of silliness and bright illustrations.
Forget gender-flipping - Jan Brett does a species flip in Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella. This whimsical tale also features a Russian setting which provides even more exotic illustrations. Janet Perlman puts another critter at the heart of the story in Cinderella Penguin or The Little Glass Flipper.
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There’s no shortage of Cinderella movies on the market. The best known is Disney’s classic animated Cinderella, which introduces us to the gentle girl and her loyal mouse friends. Cinderella III: A Twist in Time forces Cinderella to become a more active participant in her own destiny, fighting to preserve her marriage from the machinations of the Wicked Stepmother. The 2015 live action Cinderella stars Lily James as the titular maiden with a motto of “have courage and be kind”. Set in 16th century France, Ever After follows the basic outline of the Cinderella story, following a spunky, impoverished young woman named Danielle, who unwittingly falls in love with Prince Henry. Amazon tries, with some potholes along the way, to update the story with a more feminist twist in the musical Cinderella which released in 2021.