20 Classic, strange and terrible Cinderella adaptations! Part 2!

So after much writing (and reading plots to refresh my mind) I have finished the Cinderella adaptations. Some of these are looser adaptations and a couple of them Cinderella isn’t even the main character. There are a few of these that I love, some I like, and a few I’d mostly forgotten about. Here are the last ten Cinderella adaptations in order of release date! Enjoy!

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister 2002
This made for TV film aired in 2002 on ABC’s Wonderful World of Disney series (when Disney used to put out TV films on their ABC channel). I’m not certain when I saw this movie; honestly it was so long ago, I can barely remember the film. The film (based on a book of the same name) is a retelling in which the story revolves around one of the stepsisters, named Iris. Iris’s mother, Margarethe, remarries, hoping to elevate her and her daughters’ lives. The sisters, Iris and Ruth, aren’t welcomed by the spoilt and condescending Clara (Cinderella) who suffers from agoraphobia because of trauma in her past. Margarethe quickly becomes unsatisfied when she learns her new husband isn’t doing well financially. So she decides to make Iris to go to the ball and get her married to the prince – thus saving their whole family. Only Iris has been working as a model for a painter, Master Shoenmacker, and likes his student Casper. I remember this movie being enjoyable enough to watch the whole way through; I don’t think I found it particularly notable at the time. I didn’t like Clara that much, though I loved her hair and the dress she wore to the ball. Speaking of hair, I wasn’t a huge fan of Casper’s interesting mane. In fairness, it is a made for TV film which means the budget is low; still it’s far from the worst production I’ve seen.

What a Girl Wants 2003
Back in Amanda Bynes heyday, this sweet, silly Cinderella-based story came out. My friend showed me the movie at her house and I remember immediately renting the movie afterwards so my mom could watch it. At the time I knew who Colin Firth was (Mr. Darcy!!) and I enjoyed seeing him in this father-daughter tale. Amanda Bynes is Daphne Reynolds, a typical seventeen-year-old girl living in New York with her single mom. But Amanda’s always wanted to know her dad and finally decides to meet him in England. Lord Henry Dashwood had no idea of Daphne’s existence; he’s overwhelmed, especially during this time as he tries to run for office. Henry’s fiancée and fiancée’s daughter don’t take to Amanda. They even give her an ugly dress to go to one of the balls. Amanda reinvents the dress to look awesome and rocks out at the party. She starts falling for a sweet guy, Ian, who came from a posh family but decided to leave that life behind. Things start to get rocky when Henry’s advisors put pressure on him to turn Amanda into a more presentable lady; not a girl who falls off the stage into the laps of Prince William and Prince Harry at a fashion show. There are more funny (and crazy) moments in this mostly predictable teen flick. It has sort of a wholesome feel with a story that centers around acceptance, being yourself, and the need and desire of a girl to have a father in her life. The little Cinderella moments just bring everything together.

A Cinderella Story 2004
More teen flick retellings! Though this film was panned critically, it did pretty well monetary wise and even a few sequels were made (one with Selena Gomez, which I haven’t seen). I’ve never been a big teen flick fan or Hillary Duff fan either (I never watched the Lizzie McGuire show either lol). I don’t feel this movie is at par with What a Girl Wants (which is funnier) but it’s a very simple, if not cute, feel-good film. Hilary goes by Sam in this story; after her father passed away, her step-mom gets everything including her dad’s diner. Sam works there trying to save up for college. She’s unpopular amongst her high school peers and spends her time chatting to a boy online about poetry and her true feelings. When she decides to go to the home coming dance to meet her online buddy, her step-mom makes her work the night at the diner. With the help of fellow diner employee, Rhonda, Sam goes to the dance wearing a pretty dress and mask (so her step-sisters won’t recognize her). At the dance, Sam meets her online almost-boyfriend and finds out he’s Austin, the quarterback and most popular guy in the school (who also never notices her, literally)! When she has to leave the party, she drops her cell and Austin begins his search for Cinderella. This is definitely a hammy, silly yet cutesy retelling. One of my major qualms with the movie is that Sam is a sixteen-year-old girl meeting with a stranger she met online. I mean, if this guy turned out to be a forty-year-old internet predator, this would be a waaay different story. Also, Rhonda, an older woman, encourages Sam to meet Austin alone for the first time. Bad advice. Lol. Also, I understand why they had to put in that Austin doesn’t look at Sam (because he would recognize its her), but she’s pretty much being ignored by this guy all the time. This film is still easy to watch through, but not one that I would really seek out.

Ella Enchanted 2004
If you’ve read Ella Enchanted, you probably know this film is pretty different than the book. The movie takes a much more comical approach to the story with a teeny-booper aura common to movies geared to that age group. Anne Hathaway stars as Ella, a girl “blessed” by the crazy fairy Lucinda to obey everyone’s commands. Which means she has to obey any random command by someone (like “go jump off a cliff!”). She lives with her mean step-family who obsess over the handsome Prince Char. Ella decides to find Lucinda and get rid of the curse and meets an elf, Slannen, who joins her on her journey. Along the way, she is rescued by Prince Char from hungry ogres. Ella helps Prince Char see that many of the other beings in the kingdom (elves, giants, etc) are being oppressed by the kingdom’s regent Sir Edgar. Char and Ella start to fall in love but Sir Edgar discovers Ella’s secret and orders her to kill Char. Ella ends up at the ball against her will, trying to fight the urge to kill Char by the stroke of midnight. Despite the zaniness and simplified retelling of the book this film brings, I still enjoy this fairy-tale comedy. Anne Hathaway is sweet as always and extra special treat: Hugh Dancy plays Prince Char!! Sir Edgar is played by Cary Elwes (Westley in The Princess Bride) and Minnie Driver plays a house-fairy friend of Ella’s. With Ella singing several Elton John songs, medieval ‘shopping malls’, fangirls chasing Prince Char, the writers/director seemed pressed to force a modern feel to this fairytale. I think I would’ve enjoyed this movie more if they had cut back on that and just went for a tad more serious, honest tone like the book.

Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time 2007
After the very disappointing Cinderella 2, Disney decided to do another Cinderella movie. Surprisingly they pulled of a much better movie that while far from perfect is enjoyable enough for adults (like me) to watch without wanting to pull out their hair. In this midquel/retelling, Lady Tremaine gets hold of the fairy godmother’s magic wand and makes it that when Anastasia tried on the glass slipper it fit! The Prince doesn’t buy it (so he can see) but Lady Tremaine waves her magic wand and presto! The prince’s memories are wiped. Cinderella isn’t going to stand by and let Lady Tremaine take her prince like this. She disguises herself as a maid and gets inside the palace. As she gets closer to the prince, he starts to remember her. The prince finally learns what happens and goes after Cinderella. They’re going to get married, except Lady Tremaine turns her daughter Anastasia into Cinderella’s doppelganger! The idea of this movie is entertaining (if not fan-fiction) and I remember a couple funny moments that made me laugh (this is a really big deal in a Disney animated sequel people)! I liked seeing Cinderella finally get to take on some action. I always thought she had a strong character underneath in the original Disney film, she just decided to choose her battles. If you love the original, you might find this little “what if” story an enjoyable romp.

Brilliant Legacy/Shining Inheritance (K-Drama) 2009
While there are other “Cinderella” K-dramas that are closer to the story, Brilliant Legacy is the only one I’ve watched. Now tons of K-Dramas could be called Cinderella-themed because the rags-to-riches motif is super common (it’s common over here too), but this story had a few more elements that made it feel more aligned with the original fairytale, so much that when I first watched the show I immediately recognized the Cinderella origins. Go Eun-Sung is back from overseas where she attended college. She lives with her dad, step-mom, step-sister and autistic younger brother in what seems a happy home. Her life is rocked when she learns her dad, who was struggling financially, was killed in a gas explosion. Eun-Sung’s step-mom takes the life insurance money and promptly kicks out Eun-Sung and her brother much to Eun-Sung’s shock. Eun-Sung is forced to live with friends and gets a job making minimum wage. After her brother disappears, Eun-Sung desperately searches for him. She meets an old lady, Sook-Ja, who is ill and suffering memory lapse and selflessly takes care of her. Sook-Ja becomes Eun-Sung’s fairy godmother-of-sorts and takes her to her mansion and gives her a chance to become the heir of her company if Eun-Sung can find a way to raise the business profits. Only Sook-Ja’s spoilt grandson, Woo-Han, doesn’t like that one bit. And on top of that, Woo-Han’s girlfriend is Eun-Sung’s stepsister!! I watched this romantic drama during my early K-Drama years, drawn in by Eun-Sung who was sweet, compassionate and strong. Having her focus on protecting her brother gave her a very emphatic character. While I felt the drama started out strong, it definitely meandered around during the latter half of the show. I liked that the stepsister wasn’t truly evil, but watching a mostly nice girl hurt Eun-Sung still made me dislike her a lot. Woo-Han annoyed me throughout the show and I didn’t feel much of the chemistry between the leads. Overall, not a K-Drama that I would really tell anyone to seek out, but a far-cry from a terrible show.

Once Upon A Time “The Price of Gold” 2011
Of course Once Upon A Time had to be added to this lineup. I watched this show faithfully for its first three seasons (and most of the last two seasons) enjoying the retellings of fairytales, because I love fairytales! Cinderella was introduced early on in the OUAT show as the fourth episode. It follows the usual format with two linked stories – one in present day Storybrooke, USA, and the other in the past in the Enchanted Forest. Just when Cinderella’s fairy godmother shows up to help her, Rumpelstiltskin kills her and takes her wand. He offers Cinderella what she wants: gown, shoes, a promise for a better life. She agrees, ignoring his warning the magic always “comes with a price”. Cinderella meets Prince Thomas, falls in love and marries him. But Rumpelstiltskin comes calling, demanding Cinderella’s child as “payment” for the magic gift. With the help of Prince Thomas, Prince Charming and the Blue Fairy, they trick Rumple into using a magic pen that stuns him (so they can imprison him). Sadly, Prince Thomas simply disappears – Rumple warns that magic won’t be messed with and Thomas won’t be returned until Cinderella appeases it. Meanwhile, in modern day Storybrooke, Emma Swan, now the new deputy sheriff, stumbles onto pregnant, 19-year-old Ashley (Cinderella) whose upset at where her life is at. Emma encourages her that she’s been there too and to try and take control of her life. Ashley takes that to heart – and breaks into Mr. Gold’s (Rumpelstiltskin’s identity in the real world) store to steal something and even knocks him out. Emma goes after her and meets with Sean (Prince Thomas) her boyfriend who is keeping away because of his dad. Emma finds Ashley in a car accident, about to give birth and takes her to the hospital. Emma figures out that Gold has a contract on taking Ashley’s baby for adoption purposes; she makes a new deal with Gold that sets Ashley free. Sean shows up at the hospital to see his daughter’s birth and be with Ashley. This was definitely written during OUAT’s prime story-writing; the episode was really well done with an emotional drive of motherhood and the struggle of young mothers (Emma and Ashley) as well as a deeper fleshing out of the motif: magic has a price.

Into the Woods 2014
Well I tried to see this movie on opening day (Christmas) and despite buying tickets and showing up an hour early, there were no seats left and I had to get a refund, lol. So the next day I showed up bright and early. While I did enjoy this fairtayle, Into The Woods wasn’t quite what I expected – a much darker fairytale, somewhat bent on ending happily-ever-afters than giving them (I learned its way worse in the musical; everybody dies.) Despite this there are quite a few funny moments (any scene with Chris Pine as Prince Charming) and subtle spoofing of the fairytale concept. Several storylines are interwoven as a Baker and his wife seek several objects to give to a witch to rectify the curse that will leave them childless. They encounter Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk), and of course Cinderella. This retelling of Cinderella is intriguing since it takes one of the lesser known original versions where Cinderella is helped by a magical tree that grew upon her mother’s grave that answers her wish to go to the ball. She goes to three different balls (this is something usually avoided by most retellings but is in almost all of the original versions) escaping each night by midnight. On the last night, Prince Charming (simply known as the prince here) puts tar on the staircase to trap her. (the scene on the staircase is so freakin’ gorgeous!!) She ends up marrying the prince, though she feels uncertainty (they come from different worlds, after all). Sadly, everything doesn’t work out to a happy ending. As the prince said, “I was raised to be charming not sincere.” Despite this, Cinderella’s story doesn’t end with the prince and we see hope for her beyond the envisioned happily-ever-after with the prince. I had trouble understanding a few characters’ actions (mainly the baker’s wife, lol) and what exactly the main theme was (some of the themes were the difference between being truly good and just outwardly nice, selfish seeking of desires at the cost of others, forgiveness, being forced to grow up young, and hope in the worst of situations). The movie is extremely well-made and beautiful from its costumes to the locations and cinematography. There were a few catchy songs (my favorite were the two prince brothers’ ditty about the sufferings of true love; watch the movie for that scene along). Overall I enjoyed seeing it in theaters with my sisters.

After the Ball 2015
I happened upon this Canadian film on Netflix. After its limited release on Canadian soil it went to Video On Demand. The story of Cinderella is retold in modern days with Kate (Cinderella) a fashion major who wants to patch things up with her father who she’s grown apart from. She ends up working for her dad’s fashion company, Kassell Fashion, where her step-mom and step-sisters work as well. Her step-mom tries to put her in menial work (organizing buttons) but Kate spends time making friends with Daniel, a cute European-American shoe designer. Kate’s steps-sisters steal her design and pass it off as their own to impress their dad. Finally, the step-mom sets up Kate to make it look like she leaked fashion details to Kassell’s rivals. Her dad, of course, fires her. With help from Kate’s friends, she decides to disguise herself as a guy and go back to Kassell Fashion to work undercover and expose her step-mom. In her new identity, Kate starts acting with more nerve, sharing her ideas and quickly becoming her father’s favorite. She ends up going to a fashion ball – but has to show up as her guy identity and as a date for Daniel, which leads her to changing clothes in the basement every few minutes. She ends up overhearing her step-mom in the basement making a deal with Kassell’s fashion rival. With Daniel and another friend’s help, Kate reveals her step-mom’s lies and heals her relationship with her dad. This movie definitely feels very made for TV with many background stereotypical characters. I found the story interesting and enjoyed the climax, with Kate coming out on top. Overall, it didn’t come up with anything new or much less deep, instead leaving us with a simple story and a cast of mostly one-dimensional characters besides Kate.

Cinderella 2015
My favorite of them all. This is the beautiful gem that Disney surprised us (or at least me) with in 2015. This movie doesn’t attempt any major variations of the story, though it adds a few details that the original animated movie didn’t have (more of Cinderella’s parents, I liked that the step-sisters weren't ‘ugly’, the fairy godmother puts a spell on Cinderella so she can’t be recognized by her step-family). Cinderella is raised by a loving, doting family and when her mother dies, a shadow crosses the house. But even still, Cinderella presses on with courage and kindness and responds with the same nature when her father decides to remarry. After her father’s death, Cinderella is turned into a drudge who is mocked by her own family members. She has a chance meeting with Prince Kit (who she thinks is merely an apprentice) and neither of them can forget the other. With the help of her fairy godmother, Cinderella goes to the ball and dances with the prince. Of course, she runs away but the prince is bound to find her – as happily-ever-after prevails in fairytales. This movie is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! The acting is effortless, subtle and nuanced – which is rare in fairytales (the lines can be hard to say, admittedly). I’ll never forget the exquisite dance at the royal ball. I felt that every actor was perfectly chosen. The script was to the point and never dragged. Definitely a movie I will enjoy for many years to come.

Love to hear if you’ve seen and liked (or disliked!) any of these versions. Or if you’ve a Cinderella adaptation I haven't!


  1. I enjoy MANY of these despite their respective shortcomings. The silliness of Ella Enchanted is part of its charm so I giggle my way through occasional viewings of it because I don't expect more than those laughs from it. Ooo, and I will fess up: I also enjoy A Cinderella Story and occasionally its sequels. ;) After the Ball was cute enough and What a Girl Wants is still one of my favorite chick flicks; 'Confessions' is a nice story although it could really use an update - meaning the filming isn't up to par.

    Of course, my MOST favorite is the recent 2015 adaptation! It's gorgeous. :)

    1. Quite a few of these movies are silly, but enjoyable nonetheless. ;)

      The 2015 film is gorgeous indeed!!


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