It’s a modern and enchanting twist on an enduring classic! Katie (Lucy Hale of Pretty Little Liars) dreams of being a recording artist but is continually thwarted by her cruel stepmother (Missi Pyle) and stepsister (Megan Park of The Secret Life of the American Teenager). When Katie falls hard for Luke (Freddie Stroma), the new boy at her Performing Arts school, she tries to get his attention with her singing. But when her stepsister takes credit for Katie’s amazing voice and Luke falls for the wrong girl, Katie must learn to stand up for her dreams before her stepmother forces Katie to sing Luke into the arms of her wicked stepsister.
The teen music scene meets classic fairy tale in this modern telling of Cinderella
. The story is familiar enough: stepdaughter Katie (Lucy Hale of Pretty Little Liars
) is a virtual indentured servant for her mean stepmother Gail (Missi Pyle), cleaning the house and catering to her every need and whim, as well as those of daughter Bev (Megan Park of The Secret Life of the American Teenager
) and son Victor (Matthew Lintz). When a famous music producer enrolls his son Luke (Freddie Stroma) at the arts school where Katie's mom is the dean and Katie and Bev study, there's a definite attraction between Katie and Luke. Unfortunately, Gail comes up with a plan to propel Bev into superstardom, which destroys any chance of a relationship between Katie and Luke, along with Katie's chances of realizing her dream of becoming a recording artist. What Gail doesn't count on is Katie's resourcefulness, the tendency of the oppressed to band together, and the emotional power of a song. What's bothersome about this film is that most of the main characters are one-dimensional and unlikable. Gail is a mean-spirited woman who drinks too much, mistreats her stepdaughter, has unreasonable expectations for her daughter, and basically ignores her bright and totally out-of-control son. Bev is a pretty girl who lacks a sense of morality and the gumption to stand up for herself, and Victor is a self-absorbed terror who acts without consideration for others or any fear of negative consequences. Katie is more likable as the stoical teen who endures a bad situation while developing her musical talent and trying hard to be a good friend, but viewers will find her inability to assert herself quite frustrating. Luke is a similarly likable, talented young musician whose aspirations are thwarted by his father's expectations. Gail, Bev, and Victor all get at least a glimpse of the errors of their ways in this film, but while Victor's enlightenment is somewhat believable, Bev's flash of insecurity and compassion for Katie is unconvincing and short-lived, and Gail's momentary delusion of humanity is quickly negated by the (off-screen) consumption of a bottle of wine. The musical numbers are great in this film and there's a Bollywood dance scene that's well choreographed and quite fun, but in the end, that just isn't enough to offset the stereotypical, shallow characters. --Tami Horiuchi