Everyone needs a good fairy tale, especially during the stressful, nowhere-near-a-fairy tale week before fall break. So take a study siesta, log onto Netflix and replace sweatpants and books with ball gowns and glittery shoes.
Once the elderly Grande Dame of France calls the Brothers Grimm into her palace to tell them the "real" story of Cinderella, the shot centers around the light of a television for a little 21st century story time. "Now then," she says. "What is that phrase you use? Oh yes, ‘Once upon a time...'"
Set in renaissance-era France, all of the pesky supernatural Fairy Godmother and pumpkin carriage stuff is taken out, which is a fantastic change for old Cindy. In true 90s girl power form, Drew Barrymore is a progressive and capable Cinderella, named Danielle de Barbarac. All the elements are present: her father dies at a young age, leaving her with both a love for books (girl power) and an unloving stepmother with two daughters.
Anjelica Huston is the perfect evil stepmother — cold, detached, not completely evil, but ultimately irredeemable — so you don't feel bad for her when she inevitably falls.
The semi-ridiculous aspects of the movie come in when you realize that even though the movie is set in France, the entire cast has British accents. Even Barrymore, who puts a lot of spunk into it, just can't pull it off.
Also, Prince Charming, or Henry, the Crowned Prince of France, is introduced as he is running away from home, despite the fact that he looks about 30-years-old in this movie. While he is being chased by castle guards, he stops to help an older man who is being robbed, and retrieves his "most prized possession" from them, which turns out the be the Mona Lisa. (Because muggers often take rolled up pieces of parchment instead of money.)
But this all makes sense when you find out that the old man is Leonardo Da Vinci. Yep, that DaVinici is a wonder. Not only did he give the world the Mona Lisa and countless inventions, but he also played matchmaker for Cindrella and Prince Charming.
Henry and Danielle meet while she is pretending to be a noblewoman in order to save their household servant from being sold into slavery. Classic hijinks ensue. He thinks she's a rich noblewoman, she isn't, they get robbed by suspiciously Robin Hood-like gypsies whom they soon make friends with and share a romantic evening chewing on rabbit legs around the bonfire, the usual.
In true good/bad movie fashion, none of that ridiculous stuff matters because of some mysterious element that keeps you glued to the television and happily crying onto your untouched homework once the credits roll.
Basically, this movie is a way to de-stress, relax and wish that you were a well-read house servant who one day does a good deed and lands the prince of France out of it.
It could totally happen.