Rogers and Hammerstein take on the classic tale with this version of “Cinderella” from 1997. This version originally aired on “The Wonderful World of Disney” on ABC back in 1997. It features a collection of some of the biggest stars and some wonderful songs that weren’t heard in the Walt Disney Animated Studios version. This has become a fan favorite version that was one of the most requested additions to Disney+ since the service launched.
I’m trying to look at this through two lenses. I’m trying to be both subjective and objective with this. Because, subjectively, it did little for me. But, objectively, I see why this appeals to so many and could reasonably argue that this is the second best version of “Cinderella” ever made. It’s not as good as the Disney cartoon, but I see the appeal for others.
When discussing this film with one of my friends, he pointed out that it’s a good musical that really showcases the singing talents of Brandy, Whitney Houston and Bernadette Peters while also highlighting the comedic talents of Whoopi Goldberg and Jason Alexander. I must agree, that’s a great assessment of its quality. My subjective complaint would be they do very little with Victor Garber as the king. He has some moments and the character really isn’t overly necessary, but I love Garber as an actor and always want to see him onscreen more in any film or TV show I see him in.
This film is seen as a groundbreaking TV movie for diversity and I can certainly see why. This cast is diverse without worrying about race. Too many times, while casts are diverse, they are done to just fill a void. The producers didn’t care about that here. Put Victor Garber and Whoopi Goldberg together and have their son played by Paolo Montalban. Those three are from three different races, but no one cares and no one should care. It doesn’t matter if it’s adoption or if they’re supposed to be a biological family. It’s three talented actors playing the parts of the King, Queen and Prince. Calliope and Minerva are biological sisters but are clearly of different races. That doesn’t matter in this film. This is a step forward and it’s wonderful.
Despite all of these wonderful things, there are some reasons this film doesn’t work for me, personally. The effects are obviously dated. While they may have been cutting age for a TV movie in 1997, they don’t look good in 2021. I also wish some of the character names had stayed the same. It’s a minor quibble, but in the 1950 version, Cinderella’s stepsisters’ names were Anastasia and Drizella, not Calliope and Minerva. I would’ve liked it if they had kept those names. That being said, I much prefer the Prince having an actual name like Christopher, rather than being called Prince Charming.
This is a genuinely good film, but it does so little for me. I won’t sit down and watch it again on my own, but I’m glad it’s available for those who will. I would definitely recommend it this Valentine’s Day for anyone looking to see a good love story.
Ranking: 4 stars out of 5
What did you think of “Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella?”