When the 1997 version of Cinderella came out, it was like the shit at my school, granted I hated that school, but I recalled liking it this big Budget Disney made for TV movie that was also a remake. This version is originally by Rogers and Hammerstein and was made for television as a star vehicle for Julie Andrews back in 1957 which was a live television special. It was also remade again in 1965 staring Lesley-Ann Warren.
This version was produced by the Late and Great Whitney Houston. Originally she was going to play Cinderella but deemed herself to old for the role and gave the role to Brandy. Brandy then insisted that Houston play the Fairy Godmother.
Brandy as Cinderella and Whitney Houston as The Fairy Godmother
So how does this version differ from every other version of Cinderella? Well Cinderella and the Prince, in disguise, meet and form an attraction prior to the ball. The Prince also has a name; Christopher Rupert Windermere Vladimir Carl Alexander Francois Reginald Lancelot Herman Gregory James, to be exact.
Cinderella tells him that she would rather be treated with respect than being treated like a princess. They also bond over feeling trapped in their lives. It’s both refreshing and expected that they would bond over something like that. Let’s see what else? The stepmother isn’t a fan of love or dwelling in the past. Also they don’t seem so bad off. Cinderella also gives a decent reason for why she stays as she promised her father that the family would stay together. What else? The Godmother talks to Cinderella more, mainly about dreaming and impossibility and both encourages it and discourage it too, it’s a catchy song. Other than it’s pretty by the book version of Cinderella, though I do think this version of the Prince with his “impressive arrays of first names” (comment if you know that movie quote, you get two points), wouldn’t have just gone with the slipper fitting as evidence.
Brandy as Cinderella, Paolo Montalban as Prince Christopher, Whoopi Goldberg as Queen Constantina and Victor Garber as King Maximillian
On the whole this version is okay, it’s not amazing but it not like bad. The cast can all sing well but then again there is the cast. This version has an odd distinction of having some interesting casting for instants a white king (Victor Garber) and a black queen (Whoopi Goldberg) have an Filipino son (Paolo Montalban) and you know that is great, why the fuck not?
Now people try to rational this casting because people are weird. Here are some of the reasons I have found online those I’m sure there are more,
#1, Adoption, that is the easy one
#2, Genetics, which is a weird one
#3, Fantasy world, which is a cop-out
Frankly, it’s hard area to wrap your head around. Ideally it should be the right person for the role. But naturally sometimes looks and families have to enter the equation for role though sadly sometimes that get tossed aside for many reasons and sometimes roles that should go to minorities (Looking at you Last Airbender as one of many, many movies ) don’t cast the right person for the role. Personally I respect this version for its casting and the cast did a good job with their roles.
Brandy as Cinderella with Veanne Cox and Natalie Desselle Reid as Stepsisters Calliope and Minerva
However, I do think Brandy was a little weak. She was fine on the singing end of things but her speaking parts where a little lackluster but it wasn’t like that bad. I get the feeling she was trying to be nice, maybe she didn’t have much the work with? Everyone else is fine, Bernadette Peters, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jason Alexander are also a delight.
Bernadette Peters as the Stepmother with Natalie Desselle Reid and Veanne Cox as Stepsisters Minerva and Calliope
The technical are fine too. The costumes and sets are imaginative to say the least. It’s like they took the style of the early 90s and tried to make it Art Nouveau. The walls of Cinderella’s house and the castle the this odd geometric pattern that have this golden tone to them that reminds me of Klimt’s the Kiss. I kind of both like it and feel like it’s cheesy. The costumes fit this style, with lots of gold element in them with interesting shapes. Though I will point out the color of the ball is purple and blue tones which makes some lovely shots.
Brandy as Cinderella and Paolo Montalban as Prince Christopher
I’m not sure if I should mention the songs. There were some add in but they are nice songs and they were sung well, and plus how could a production go wrong on the singing front with Whitney Houston and Bernadette Peters? It doesn’t.
Bernadette Peters as the Stepmother with Veanne Cox and Natalie Desselle Reid as Stepsisters Calliope and Minerva
Is 1997 version of Cinderella the best Cinderella version? That is a matter of preference, if it’s your favorite, that’s great. I thought it was okay at best but it didn’t make me want to tear my eyes out or lobotomized myself and that is good enough for me.
2021 Edit – Planning on re-watching this movie since it’s now on Disney+ so the review could change. Or maybe I should just write a new one since I feel like my reviewing style has shifted away from weird anger…