If you can remember 2004, you can remember A Cinderella Story. This is why it is one of the best films ever made and is a vital nugget of cinematic history
You can have your Godfather trilogy and Citizen Kane and I will raise you A Cinderella Story.
In my opinion, the 2004 film is one of the best films ever made.
It’s the reason millions of girls across the world discovered Jimmy Eat World. It’s the reason Chad Michael Murray’s face was plastered across every wall of every girl’s bedroom. And it’s the reason why I have severe and damaging high standards when it comes to men.
If you don’t court me over email with obscure Tennyson quotes then I just don’t think we have a viable future.
For 2004, the film – starring the aforementioned Murray and Hilary Duff – was utterly modern. A twist on the classic tale of Cinderella, it was a glimpse at the dark reality of the future of dating. Austin and Sam meet in an online chatroom under pseudonyms and moved their relationship to their flip phones. This was a time when you had to press a button three times to get a letter and ‘LOL’ had serious connotations and wasn’t used ironically at the end of an Instagram caption.
Both parties believed that ultimately their love interests would be disappointed by their true-self and if this isn’t a correct representation of Tinder anxiety then I don’t know what is.
There are some dodgy moments like how didn’t anyone realise who Sam was under the mask? Nevertheless, it’s as close to cinematic perfection as I will ever see and I will stand by that statement.
Before you huff at me in disgust, let me take you through the reasons for its brilliance.
Forget Romeo and Noah from The Notebook. The most romantic man in film history is Austin Ames. The tortured rich boy football player who just wants to write poetry and listen to sad songs while looking like he needs to go to the toilet is every girl’s dream. He was smart, handsome, considered and charming.
To top it off, he chose his girl and his dreams over football, walking out of the big game to the dismay of everyone to give Sam her long-awaited kiss.
Out of the entire film, this was the most difficult segment for me to believe. If a man in Ireland were to walk off the pitch in the final 10 minutes of a GAA County Final to shift the face off of a girl in the stand he would be publicly castrated.
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It tackles global warming
A Cinderella Story was a crystal ball into our planet’s future. The film is set in the San Fernando Valley during a time of intense drought. Water restrictions are in place and the grass has turned a sickly shade of brown.
Sixteen years later, our world is burning. The rich – like Sam’s stepmother – don’t care and will happily leave their sprinklers on while the rest of us suffer the consequences.
The A Cinderella Story writers knew.
It teaches you how to take a risk
Sam takes a big risk by leaving her family and her job behind. She has no money or other family but she believes in herself. At the exact moment she makes this groundbreaking decision, a guitar falls off the wall to reveal the words: “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”
Watching this scene at the tender age of nine, my mouth dropped at the serendipitous nature of it all.
And thus, here lies one of the great life lessons to be taken from the film.
If Sam can walk out on her stepmother than you can leave that job you hate.
The film’s fun facts
A 2016 Buzzfeed article delved into the background of the cult-classic film. The information is intriguing but often unsettling and adds only more depth to the fairytale remake.
Firstly, Rupert Grint (Ron from Harry Potter) was allegedly offered the role of Austin Ames. This is a preposterous notion.
Secondly, Hilary Duff was only 15 at the time of filming, while Chad Michael Murray was 22, making me feel wholly uncomfortable.
And thirdly, the now-infamous kiss in the rain scene was reshot numerous times because the rain had to hit Chad Michael Murrays face at a certain spot and subsequently cause all girls to lose a firm grip on reality.
Look through your books
While taking a risk is all well and good, the most profound and valuable lesson to be seized from the film is this.
Look through all of your books because the will of a deceased relative may be hiding in there.
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