Another Cinderella Story – DVD Review

OK, so we’ve all heard of Hannah Montana, right? You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of her by this point. As talented as Miley Cyrus is, she’s going to grow up and eventually leave Disney Channel. Disney knows this and has already begun grooming her replacement. Have you heard of Selena Gomez? She’s this adorable, baby-faced teen who is currently starring in the Disney Channel Original Series The Wizards of Waverly Place.

This latest version of the classic Cinderella story, which is also a non-related sequel of 2004’s A Cinderella Story starring Hillary Duff, spotlights Ms. Gomez as the Cinderella character. She stars as Mary, who came to live with her new stepmother and stepsisters after she and her father were married. Then when her father passed away, she was forced to live as a slave in her stepmother’s house. In this fairy tale, the stepmother is Dominique Blatt (played by the oh-so talented Jane Lynch), an aging pop star who still thinks she’s hot and is constantly looking for her big break back into the limelight. The Prince of the story is Joey Parker (Drew Seeley), a famous pop star who has come home from touring to attend high school as a normal senior.

Joey’s record label decides to hold a contest within the school – a dance contest – and the winner will be featured in his new music video. The school goes nuts over this, every girl is vying for his attention. But the one girl that’s on his mind is one that he can’t find. A few weeks ago at the school’s black and white ball, a mysterious girl danced her way into Joey’s heart. She had to leave abruptly, but dropped her Zune as she rushed out. So in the madness of trying to prepare for this dance-off, Joey’s also trying to find the owner of the Zune. The girl that can name the songs off the Zune, must be his mystery girl.

My tolerance of kids/teen movies is extremely high, however, this version of the classic story just does not work. The biggest contributor is Selena Gomez. While she is a very talented singer and dancer, her acting chops just aren’t up to speed quite yet. She gazes blankly at her co-stars with these big doe eyes, but rarely gives any emotion. With all the events in the film, she should be exhibiting a wide array of emotions from anger to frustration to extreme happiness that comes with falling in love for the first time. We get none of that. Just an eye-rolling teen with no expression. As much as it pains me to say it, the other major downfall is Jane Lynch as the stepmother Dominique. She makes her grand entrance in the movie doing a commercial for a back acne product called “Backne”. Singing in a hip-hop style, “Buh-buh-baby got backne”. This got an uncomfortable chuckle from me, but it goes downhill from there. She’s clearly trying to overact and make the character cartoon-y, but it just does not work. She seems awkward and unsure of herself. Since either Mary or Dominique are in just about every scene, this nearly ruins the movie.

The highlights of the movie, however, are the supporting cast. Drew Seeley as teen heartthrob Joey Parker is very charming. He’s got a Freddie Prinze Jr. (I was reminded of She’s All That several times throughout this movie) type charm and look about him. He’s quite talented – he was the singing voice for Troy, Zac Efron’s character in the first High School Musical film, and wrote a song for it – and I’m sure will be around for some time. Mary’s best friend Tami is played by relative newcomer Jessica Parker Kennedy, and I really enjoyed her. She is involved in a sub-plot love story with Joey’s manager/best friend Dustin, played by Marcus T. Paulk. I was way more interested in these two than the main actors. Sadly, these two aren’t in the movie enough to save it.

This isn’t a Disney released movie, but Another Cinderella Story will automatically be associated because of Selena Gomez and Drew Seeley. What doesn’t make sense is that they were allowed to do this movie that is so poorly written, and has so many sexual references. Yes, another major contributor to the downfall of this film is the very inappropriate sexual talk. I understand that these are teenagers and sex comes up very often in normal everyday conversation. But these are Disney actors. Not former Disney actors, like the flack Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera got when they first broke out, but current Disney actors. It’s just a little uncomfortable to see them like this. Oh, and the age difference between Drew Seeley and Selena Gomez? He’s 26 and she’s 16. It’s just all too much.

It’s really too bad that Another Cinderella Story isn’t better than it is. Selena Gomez really is very cute and charming and talented…but not here. She’ll need a better outlet for her growth. If Disney really is grooming Selena Gomez to be the next Miley Cyrus, they’ll need to better monitor her outside work.

This DVD release is in fullscreen, with a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. It does have surround sound, the soundtrack being the best part of the film.

Mary: Dancing Ever After – Focuses on Selena as she trains to learn the dance moves for the movie. 5:22

Mary: The Cinderella of the Story – Interview with Selena Gomez. 3:22

A Pop Star Prince: Joey Parker – Interviews with Drew Seeley and the rest of the female cast talking about how he’s so dreamy. 3:58

The Diva Dominique – All about Jane Lynch. 5:46

Tami’s Fantastic Fashions – Tami in her closet talking about her favorite outfits. 5:09

Another Cinderella Story – Sing A Long – Sing a long versions of Hurry Up and Save Me, Just That Girl, and New Classic.

“Just that Girl” Music Video.

Previews: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, The Clique, Gossip Girl on DVD, Another Cinderella Story soundtrack.

This is one of those movies that is strictly for tweens/younger teens. Parents won’t get anything out of this, and should be warned of the sexual references before showing it to their tweens/younger teens. If you don’t have any tweens in your house, this one is not for you.

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Warner Home Video presents Another Cinderella Story. Directed by Damon Santostefano. Starring Selena Gomez, Drew Seeley, Jane Lynch. Written by Erik Patterson, Jessica Scott. Running time: 92 minutes. Rated PG. Released on DVD: September 16, 2008. Available at Amazon.